Now that you have designed your garden, the next step is what kind of plant to grow. Now is the time to look around and see what is available and what grows in your area. In addition to pleasing design, the planting can be carried out with beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary plants, and a garden of exceptional beauty will be the result. To such plant groups belong the azaleas, and gardens in which they are used mainly are immediately lifted out of the commonplace. Azaleas take the places of good evergreen or deciduous shrubs. In Spring, they fill the garden with such beauty that is unsurpassed.
Eastern Asia has contributed certain shrubs to America’s gardens that are among the finest grown from any source of origin. These Asiatic plant emigrants have fitted into our soil and climate and have grown like natives.
Their habit of growth, branches, leaves, and flowers have fitted into the American landscape. They are distinctly at home. In later years, many of these plants have come directly from the East, but in earlier days, most migrated westward through Europe. Among them, none are lovelier than the azalea.
Have you watched a golf tournament where the background is rows and rows of Azalea plants? It’s pretty breathtaking. I went to a party years ago, and the host’s backyard was edged in azalea plants that must have been planted years ago because it was about five to six feet tall. At this time of the year, azalea plants run supreme in the south. Here in Charleston, they are everywhere.
The above picture is the azalea plant that I planted about eight years ago. I bought this purple-flowered one locally. It seems it is the popular azalea that you see blooming all over Charleston this time of the year. It came in pink and white also, but I like this color best. It is planted in a shady spot, and this year, it is just gorgeous. My neighbors said the same thing. I also have two Exbury Azaleas, which I brought from New York when we moved to Charleston. They are smaller plants but they bloom on and off all year. I have two other azaleas which are double and planted in a raised bed, but they are just starting to form buds. They almost look like roses. These last two got more sun. In fact, azaleas need more sun to produce the most profuse flowers, but some need more sun than others.
Azaleas are easy plants to grow with less maintenance. All species require acid, organically rich soil, and prefer light shade. They are prized for their brilliant spring display of blossoms and for their deep green foliage, which often turns yellow to crimson in the fall. Despite their physical differences, azaleas and rhododendrons belong to the same genus and require the same growing conditions.