Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ Inspired By Gardens


It has got to be one of the nicest months on record.  Lots of rain at night, t-storms at times hardly appropriate- like rush-hour; yet we welcome both the precipitation and the distraction it brings to the daily hour and a half ride from downtown to Riding, Va.  Temperatures are fairly mild and not rising above the 80's until this coming weekend.  The gardens are loving it, and it shows.  The past few weeks have been all about the azaleas.  Just like circus acrobats or Vegas show-girls, they look good in pink/white/coral/fuchsia blooms and lots of it.  Previously quiet and demure during the earlier months of the year,  really just waiting for the sign, the signal, the drum-call; and then in a blaze of feathers, sequins.  Face. Body. Attitude. DIVA.  This I know:  PARIS IS {NOT} BURNING!!  
Azaleas are like gypsies in spirit, meaning unconventional.  To place them in rows as foundation plantings does them a disservice; attempting to prune/clip/shave/shape/bully them into formal hedges is an injustice; and sticking them in the middle of a sterile, manicured lawn surrounded by four inches of pine chips and the occasional pathetic annual misses the point completely and shows a total disconnect on your part, dear reader.  Please place azaleas where they can enjoy some shade (they love dappled light and woodland forests in the company of ferns, hostas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and moss).  Use them as accent plants; they connect with the audience once (during mid-late spring and a few varieties bloom in the summer) and then become a little uninteresting as gardeners continue to search for the next visual high, which means that roses had better get in and out of wardrobe and makeup quickly.  Azaleas really need very little pruning; remove leggy or broken branches after snow-mageddon; perhaps light trimming and loose shaping once a year after they have bloomed, a fairly rich acidic soil, and adequate watering in the summer.  Do not attempt to have them provide you with all-year interest;  get a pet lizard instead.

Enjoy the visual treat, and thanks for participating in the (visual) peep-show.




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