Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pretty in Pink: Native Azaleas of the Coastal Plain II

There's a new Poll on the sidebar, Shrubs that Bloom in Your Spring Garden.
The collection of native and hybrid azaleas found on Ichauway Plantation features the life work of Mr. Aaron Varnadoe, who had a nursery in Colquitt, GA where he hybridized native azaleas. David Varnadoe continues with his father's work, propagating azaleas and overseeing the design and care of Ichauway's native gardens which feature many Varnadoe propagules and highlight hybrids of Rhododendron flammeum.

Mr. Varandoe's work is mentioned in American Azaleas by L. Clarence Towe. Varnadoe's 'Phlox Pink' is the hybrid most mentioned in nursery sites I surveyed online.

'Appleblossom' is one that David mentioned when we were
looking at all the natives and I was making pics.

R. austrinum is found in the wild only in south Ga, south AL and FL panhandle. Mr. Varnadoe bred using the rootability of R. austrinum which he crossed with R. Canesens and later R. Flammeum to develop heat resistant cultivars.

I'm showing pics I made in 2006 on a special tour of the facility.
When Ms. Lillian and I went to open house in 2009, the azaleas were mostly done,
only some orange azaleas still with color, which I'll show soon.

The deciduous azaleas shown in this series are native to the southeastern US. The evergreen azaleas that we grow have roots in Asia, mostly imported from Japan. Most bloom a little later than the natives and will be featured later when they bloom here.
It was impossible for me to choose a favorite.
Later I want to show you yellow and the fragrant R. alabamense, special to me. 

Thank you all for participating in my unofficial polls.
Please, let me know how many favorite spring shrubs I left off. 
I left off hydrangeas, but I think of them as summer shrubs.
Who would have thought that Iris was the one perennial that the most of us grow?


  1. Oh my goodness ~ Those are all beautiful!!! Wish I could grow all of them down here. I have one kind of Azalea. I just love your place Nell.


  2. Azaleas are such floral fireworks! These are particularly lovely, and remind me that spring will makes it way to my dooryard one of these days too. I'm sorry you're still having problems with your plot, but glad to hear from you!

  3. I missed the flowering quince on the poll, so I did get to vote, after all.

    I am so envious of your azaleas. They are just beautiful!

    Your plot is still broken. Bummer...

  4. I messed up (again) and forgot to check multiple answers. I fixed it.

    I post only once a day, Janie. If you come in late in the day, my new post is already on the second or third page.

  5. Gorgeous..I'll have to go in our way back when my husband gets hone to see if our Native Piedmonts are blooming.

  6. Wow those are some gorgeous photos!!

  7. I am sad to say I have no spring blooming shrubs in the yard where I live. Once upon a time I had many, but I loved the flowering quince and another that I never learned the botanical name. Perhaps someone knows what it was. It was covered in tiny yellow blossoms and had the most wonderful smell of cloves. We called it a spice bush.

    The azaleas are gorgeous. If I were to choose one it would be the apple blossom with pink edges. Just lovely.

  8. I love native azaleas and wish we could grow them here. Friends live on one of the many ridges around Nashville and can happily grow them~sigh. Beautiful photos Nell Jean! gail

  9. Oh, those azaleas blossoms are so gorgeous! I love them all, especially "Appleblossom"! These look very different from the ones sold in garden center here in florida. Thanks for sharing!

  10. The Apple Blossom Azalea look so much like the real apple blossoms in my mother's garden. All of the Azaleas are all so beautiful.

  11. Beautiful azaleas, Nell. They make me look forward to May, when my rhododendrons will bloom. I always enjoy your polls, and they often fascinate me because of the regional differences they reveal. For example, I checked off Philadelphus even though it doesn't bloom until well into summer here. And if you asked me to name the first spring-flowering shrub that came to mind, it would probably be lilac (Syringa), which doesn't grow in your region. -Jean

  12. Lilacs were on the original list. I forgot to check the box so that more than one could be checked. Lilacs got omitted when I rewrote the list. I am so sorry that I left them off, as lilacs should be the first that came to mind when I was listing 'shrubs that do not bloom this far south that I love.'

    When evergreen azaleas bloom, I'll explain the difference between the commonly sold azaleas and the natives. One difference is that many natives bloom earlier, but the big difference is origin.

    I can hardly wait to see the evergreen azaleas bloom, as they are mostly what I have. I have one deciduous azalea that isn't native, and it is a favorite.

  13. That "Apple Blossom" is swoon-worthy. My favorite native azalea of all time is R. calendulaceum, with those long stamens and the bright orangey-red blossoms. I don't often see it... if we end up staying in the deep South after this last year for F. at university, I plan on growing it. :)

    I'm amazed Lavender and Yarrow both scored so high in the poll!

  14. Nell, who is Ms. Lillian? I have been meaning to ask....

    We have only one native rhododendron, roseum. I have never tried any of them. The 'acid' soil requirement has always put me off. Yet I am trying blueberries......

    The natives are simply beautiful and so are your photos of them.

  15. No azaleas in my northern yard to enjoy, so it was a pleasure to see all these photos.

    Pretty in Pink has always made me think of the Molly Ringwald movie of the same name. Now it will make me think of this post.


  16. Wow, Apple Blossom is gorgeous. Nice! How lucky you were to be able to take a tour when these beauties were in bloom.

  17. I voted. Your azaleas and rhodies are beautiful! I can't wait to see mine. Spring is going to be wonderful this year-I just know it:)

  18. Beautiful azaleas!

    I am sorely lacking spring shrubs for early bloom. My garden cranks up in mid-April. I have 6 Encore Azaleas that will bloom in April, a Kwansan Cherry and a Lady Banksia Rose. I lost my winter daphne due to Grumpy's visit (joking). I can only blame it on the deer and not enough space inside the fence.

  19. Those blooms are huge! (and gorgeous!). I can't wait until mine begin to bloom but they're a ways off yet. I have azaleas around the yard and love them, but am not sure of their names. Apple Blossom is a beauty! I have forsythia and lilacs, as well. Another one I love is Japanese Kerria. Mine were so out-of-control from not being cut back over the years that I went out this past weekend and pruned them good. I'm afraid I have stripped them of most of their buds, though. It was the easiest time to do it though, since the foliage wasn't hanging everywhere. If I don't get a good show this spring, I know they'll be back next year and I always have photos!

  20. I just remembered that the Kerria will re-bloom in late summer so I feel better now!

  21. Those azaleas are amazing with their lovely big blooms! They make the varieties that we grow over here look almost mean spirited!

  22. stunning! thanks for sharing.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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