Friday, March 28, we received our first big spring rain and with some sunshine and warm temperatures, seedlings, new leaves and color are exploding all around.
The main eye-catcher in my garden this past week are definitely the Rhododendrons! I have so many different colors. Having many existing Rhodies was one reason for choosing my home. This classic standard for any southern garden provides a spring festival of color for several weeks.
By the end of the week they were really peaking. As I mentioned in an earlier post, all azaleas are in the genus Rhododedron. Classification can be confusing, but according to one of the leading professional horticulturists, Dr. Michael Dirr, in general, true rhododendrons are usually evergreen and azaleas are mostly deciduous. Rhododendrons usually have ten or more stamens (male parts). Azaleas usually have five stamens, flowers tend to be funnel or tubular and generally have leaves that are pubescent and never dotted with scales. In my own yard I believe I mostly do have evergreen “rhodies”, nearly all of the large flowers have ten stamens. I’ve got deciduous rhododendrons too. Look at the yellow azalea pictured down below on the page. It is a native azalea and you may be able to see it has the classic funnel-form flower and five stamens. That’s an easy one!
If you are interested in all things Rhododendron, you might check out the American Rhododendron Society. There are also State chapters.
I am also excited that my native azalea is still alive and bloomed very well this spring after one year in the ground. Rhodendron austrinum (flame azalea) is a hardy, native, deciduous shrub with outstanding spring color. I highly recommend seeking out both R. austrinum or R. canescens native azaleas for your southern garden, where hardy.
Azaleas weren’t the only things blooming though! My red-tipped Photinia started flowering. There are several species of Photinia. Mine are planted as hedges, which does pose some problems, but for now, still serve their purpose. Clemson University has a good Cooperative Extension handout with information on Phontinia.
The tiny “daisy-looking” flower below is a native wildflower of the genus Erigeron. Color in the ray flowers varies from white to white with lavender. Once flowering begins to decline I will mow these back to the lawn height. There are at least seven species that bloom in this region in spring.
A standard, “old timey” spring, flowering shrub is old-fashioned spirea, usually called bridal wreath spirea, Spirea vanhouttei. Its a graceful, deciduous, arching shrub with clusters of brilliant, white, tiny flowers.
I’m cheating with this next small, flowering deciduous tree as its not fully flowered out, but so close that I could not resist. In the late afternoon sun the flowers of Chionanthus virginicus seem to glow and the chartreuse, spring leaves set the perfect background for the thin, spidery-like flowers. Commonly known as fringe tree or Grancy graybeard, you may see this fine native flowering along roadsides or hiking trails of native plant habitat. I love to observe this tree from my second-story window in the late afternoon when it really seems to glow.
If my springs posts don’t inspire you to get out and observe what’s blooming in your own yard, I hope that you can visit nearby parks or gardens to enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer us in spring 2014.
Keep on Growin’
The Garden Maiden
All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden