More Azaleas, plus Wisteria!steemCreated with Sketch.

in gardening •  last month
These beautiful azaleas were not included in my recent post about azaleas because they had only begun to bloom, just a little. For some unknown reason, this particular species is always the last of the azaleas to bloom in our neighborhood. In the last day or so, however, the bushes are really beginning to fill with flowers!

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This hedgerow of azaleas is along the driveway, and the bushes to the right have not yet bloomed. In another week or two, there will be a long "wall" of fuchsia-colored blooms there!

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I was told that these particular azaleas came from my grandparents' property — that belonging to my father's parents. According to the story, someone (we don't remember who it was) visited Formosa (an old name for the island commonly known today as Taiwan) and brought these back for my grandmother. My guess is that it might have been my Uncle Ray, who was in the navy and traveled extensively during his career in service. I think it more plausible that "cuttings" were taken from the plants in Formosa, rather than entire bushes brought back.

The name Formosa dates from 1542, when Portuguese sailors sighted an uncharted island and noted it on their maps as Ilha Formosa ("beautiful island"). [source]

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Anyway, my grandmother came into possession of them, which were planted beside her house and they thrived. Years later during a visit, my parents accepted an offer of some cuttings/plants, and brought them here. Because of their provenance, I refer to these as the "Formosa Azaleas."

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This species can grow quite large, unless pruned — taller than I am, which is amazing because I am 5'8" (172.7 cm). Behind the house, there's another hedgerow which I never prune, so they make quite an impressive sight when they are blooming! Here is my bicycle parked in front of them a few years ago when they were in full bloom:

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The flowers are big, too, so that keeps the bees happy! I had one bee, buzzing in an annoyed manner while I was photographing his flowers... 😂

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While out admiring the pretty flowers today, I noticed that the Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) flowers are also blooming now, too, right in front of one section of these azaleas!

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If you are curious to know how I determined which exact genus and species of Wisteria this is, read the post I made last year on these flowers; you can see additional photos of them in that post, too. But first, more photos from this year!

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Wisteria flowers are very soft and delicate. Just touching them will often cause some of the individual flowers to fall from the racemes, which can quickly make a mess on the ground when the wind blows. They have a very sweet and lovely fragrance, though, which easily permeates the air around the plants. In fact, their fragrance as well as their beauty make them prized by gardeners.

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The only downside to the Asian (Chinese, Japanese) varieties of this plant is how prolifically they grow. It is a vine that reaches out to entangle and ensnare whatever is in its path. The vines will grow over entire trees and buildings, if allowed,

When I was a child and Mom wanted a Wisteria, my father got two or three vines for her. He put a wooden post into the ground and let them spiral up it. He kept them meticulously pruned and under control. Eventually, all the vines grew thicker until they took on the appearance of a tree with a twisted trunk, and produced flowers every year, which my mother loved.

Fast-forward a few decades and now wind and/or birds have spread the Wisteria to another section of the property where it grew out of control when my father lost his eyesight and ability to work as hard as he always did when he was younger. I have spent many an hour over the past few years cutting and pulling the rampant vines. They grew in-between azalea bushes, and even up into the canopy of a cedar tree nearby! That was a real chore getting all that out of the tree. They're coming back again, relentlessly.

So, if you think you want some Wisteria in your garden, carefully consider the vigilance and work that might be involved in keeping it under control. But, you will smell sweet if you do the work in the spring when the flowers are in bloom! 😁

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SOURCES
   1 Wikipedia: Wisteria
   2 Wikipedia: Wisteria sinensis

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13-Apr-2019

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These are stunning images, @thekittygirl! I love both azaleas (which I grew up with in the Pacific Northwest) and wisteria (which I grew at home in California). They are delightful. And I really love the picture of the pink bicycle.

We don't have any flowers yet where I live now, in Minnesota, so these are a sight for sore eyes!

Beautiful flowers both and very interesting news post. Beautiful pictures!!!

That Wisteria is absolutely beautiful, I can smell it through the screen ;) Lovely pictures with such sweet history. Plants passed down through family history, a living antique!

What beautiful blooms! And to have a whole hedge row of them - lucky you!
I tried in vain to get an suppossibly hardy Azalea to establish in my garden but it could not survive our harsh winter. I love all that color!
They are like a family heirloom to be passed on through the generations - wonderful!


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Beautiful! The azaleas and the wisterias are both thriving and with such gorgeous colours <3

I also didn't know Taiwan was called Formosa before ! What an interesting history lesson :D

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Both very beautiful flowers, I have only ever seen Wisteria inland, never realized they are capable of taking over a garden like this.

Wow! You have just given me the names of two flowers here my friend!
Firstly I am taller than your Azaleas (6'3"), but I am not taller than the azalea tree on a farm here. The tree is about 3 meters high!
I have included a picture for you of the flowers on the tree to please verify if it's indeed an azalea flower.
Blessings!
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That lovely flower certainly looks like an azalea to me, although I am no expert. Azaleas are part of a very large family of plants knows as Rhododendron, which all have similar flowers. Most of the non-azalea members of the Rhododendron have thick, leathery leaves, and your leaves appear to be thinner and not so "leathery" in look. So, yes, I would think that is very possibly an azalea! Since there are over 10,000 species and cultvars of azaleas, it is entirely possible that one was bred to be three meters tall! That is impressive! Thanks for sharing this beautiful flower!
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Thank you and except for the color, it looked very similar to your flower.
Thank you also for the detailed answer and now I can find rest in knowing that it is an Azalea of the Rhododendron family that somehow ended up in South Africa.
Blessings!

Another amazing selection of Azalea photographs, it’s amazing your bicycle is almost camouflaged in front of them!

An amazing story as well about how you came to have these flowers, well done Uncle Ray for making your garden beautiful.

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