By Norman Winter
There is nothing prettier than a landscape that has become a woven tapestry of color and texture that entices or pulls you from one area of the garden to the next. This method of conceal and reveal becomes a garden of participation as you can’t see the whole landscape from any one point. Encore®Azaleas by virtue of their evergreen nature and repeat bloom from spring through fall allow you to do just that – creating vistas only revealed by walking the garden.
There are 31 varieties of Encore®Azaleas with almost half considered as intermediate (reaching 4- to 5-feet in height). Compared to the 2- to 3-foot stature of the dwarf Encore®Azaleas, it easy to see how these can become the bones of the well-designed landscape.
The taller habit of the intermediate selections allows you – the designer – the ability to use them as screens, the walls if you will, of outdoor rooms. Whether your outdoor room is a garden of fragrance, a water garden, features a piece of statuary, or a place to sit, the intermediate Encore® Azalea represents the perfect backdrop.
While we treasure azalea blooms as much as anyone, the conceal and reveal gardens of participation suggest that you stagger the azalea vistas throughout the various rooms of the landscape. In other words, your first outdoor room might feature an odd numbered sweep or cluster of the same Encore. An example might be five of the hot pink Autumn Jewel™.
Autumn Jewel™ is known to bloom early in the spring and early in the fall. By planting all of the same variety in this sweep we know that they should all bloom at the same time, and as they grow together over time, will develop into that photographic moment. You might ask what is a sweep? It is a graceful irregular curve or drift versus a straight and formal line.
If the idea of a layered look of azaleas piques your interest, then you might select the dwarf white Autumn Ivory™ to be grown in front of Autumn Jewel™. The Encore®Azalea Bloom Times Chart on our website will show you that it, too, blooms early in the spring and the fall. Remember, however, that Encore®Azaleas will give you some great blooms in the summer, too.
It seems everyone wants a splash of purple in the garden, and there are two excellent choices in the intermediate category. The bloom times chart will tell you that one, Autumn Amethyst™, will bloom early and thus cycle with the pink Autumn Jewel™. The other is the award-winning Autumn Royalty™ that blooms later in mid spring and late fall.
There are advantages to each. The first is obvious in that with Autumn Amethyst™ you have sequenced your blooms as much as possible. On the other hand, by choosing Autumn Royalty™, you have lengthened your azalea blooming season by having some early and mid-season.
The size of your landscape and the number of outdoor rooms will help you decide how many intermediate Encore®Azaleas you really need, and how you might want to sequence their blooming – together or spread out. The 15 intermediate Encore®Azaleas come in early, mid, and late season. Your garden can be like a symphony in that as one group of Encore®Azaleas end their bloom, another begins.
The Southern Living® Plant Collection offers the best in perennial color, and evergreen shrubs or small trees with either dazzling blooms or sensational foliage are excellent to partner with your Encore®Azaleas – allowing you to create the serene, the festive or whatever mood you want in each area of the garden.