Amazing azaleas

azalea, garden plants, pink plants, garden designer, irish gardens

At this time of year, no blog on garden design would be worth its salt without a post on Rhododendrons .  Alongside the Magnolias these are some of the plants (both trees and shrubs) that lend a real “wow-factor” to spring gardens.

My father has always been a “rhodo-fanatic” and having recently moved from a garden in Wicklow with alkaline soil to one in Kerry with acid-peat soil, he is delighted with the results – his Rhododenrons are romping away and producing spectacular flowers.

garden plants for acid soils, Rhododendrons, garden design, designer

Rhodendron macabeanum in Kerry

Briefly, as you would need a whole book to explain their botanical and horticultural characteristics (and I am no expert on this particualr plant), the name comes from the Greek, rhodon, rose, and dendron, tree: this is a very large genus of plants, with hundreds of species and hybrids in cultivation too, including the shrubbier Azaleas.  Common to the majority of Rhododendrons is their dislike of limey soils, although there are some exceptions, such as those grown on the recently developed Inkarho rootstock.  There are both evergreen and deciduous species with the evergreen providing garden designers with opportunities for using them as year-round accent plants.

garden plants, rhododendrons, planting design, garden design

Rhododendron arboreum in Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow

I prefer to see them used in woodland styled gardens with some shelter available: Rhododendrons generally prefer cool roots and are happy enough with partial shade; sun-loving hybrids are fine unless the roots get very dry.  They like to be mulched in early spring with leaf or green waste compost, old manure and the like as they are hungry plants – this also helps to keep the soil moist.  I love to come across a spectacular rhododendron whilst walking around a woodland garden like Mount Usher.

garden designer, garden plants, planting design, acid-loving plants, garden in Kerry, Rhododendrons

Azalea ‘Hino-Mayo’ in a Kerry garden

Azaleas are often a bit more showy and so can be used in other gardens with more open aspects and where a strong splash of colour is desired.  But ensure that there is something to take over after the Azaleas fade.

No Comments

Post a Comment