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Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Extend the Pizzazz

Some of the frequent dilemmas in our gardens are finding the right color and texture that extend pizzazz throughout the growing season. Tricky though it may be, playing with different varieties within a species is an excellent way to achieve this goal. Azaleas are a great example.

One way to vary the palette of Azaleas is to break away from the standards like ‘Delaware Valley White’ and ‘Blaaws Pink’ (the low semi-evergreen varieties) and delve into the vast selection of deciduous types. Some of these shrubs can reach impressive heights of 10-12’ and create wisps of color from April to July.

Azaleas typically like high-organic, well-draining moist acidic soils. So if you have these conditions, here are a few of our favorites that might expand and extend your color palette past the early spring season. The list is in order of blooming sequence so plan accordingly in your garden.

• Azalea (Rhododendron) mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’
• ‘Weston Pink Diamond’ – This is a cross of PJM Group and Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'
• R. vaseyi, Pinkshell Azalea (A native to New England – also a Cary Award Winner, which means it is a proven champ.) Check out this list for other Cary Award winning plants -
• Pinxterbloom Azalea
• R. schlippenbachii, Royal Azalea – This shrub has a very distinctive foliage unlike any other and is hardy to this region.
• R. calendulaceum, Flame Azalea – Well-named for its hot colors, you may find flower variations from orange/yellow to red/orange when shopping in the nurseries
• Any of the ‘Highlight’ varieties
• R. kaempferi - Torch Azalea
• Azalea x Exbury hybrids
• Azalea viscosum - Swamp Azaleas
• Numerous summer bloomers like ‘Lollipop’, another Weston Nursery introduction.

Haven’t convinced you yet? Jot down these reasons to check out these deciduous shrubs:

• Some are natives, which makes your overall maintenance regime and success rate for a healthy plant mix achievable. Even the non-native varieties are very cold-hardy. Perfect for New England.
• Many of them have fragrant flowers.
• The color selection is par to none and can give you a vast array of splash throughout the season.
• The fall color is phenomenal.

Remember to pick your plants wisely when shopping the nurseries. Look for stock that is fresh. In other words, no glaring bruises, dings and blemishes. You can prune out a few minor misgivings but you can’t correct poor handling of plant materials. Enjoy the sunshine and take Calvin and Hobbes’ advice for our inspirational quote for the weekend “You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood What mood is that? Last-minute panic.!”
Image of R. schlippenbachii, Royal Azalea from the Internet
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)