Magic is happening all across landscapes in the azalea belt right now, thanks to Encore Azalea's winter foliage. Landscape color is what we are all about—we’ve created azaleas that bloom in the spring, summer, fall and many days in between. But, out of the 31 varieties, there are seven that offer you the added bonus of winter leaf color. In fact, they are debuting winter foliage color now in shades of purple, bronze, and red, depending on the variety.
To maximize this time of winter color, consider partnerships of high contrast—colors that are remarkably different— therefore bringing out the best in each other. In other words, what combination of colors would allow these winter brilliant Encore varieties to stand out in the winter?
For ideal combinations, I look to the Southern Living® Plant Collection for a wide array of shrubs, from hollies to cleyera, and even select conifers. Creative garden designers may choose to begin by planting a cluster three of Forever Goldy® Arborvitae. This 10- to 12-foot compact conifer really does offer 24-karat gold-like foliage all year.
The opposite or complementary color of gold is violet or purple. The absolute best partnership with Forever Goldy would be Autumn Amethyst—giving you a complimentary “wow” when it is in bloom, and again in the winter with its purple foliage. It is intermediate in height reaching 4-foot tall. Autumn Amethyst would also be terrifically partnered with the small golden conifer Night Light™ Chamaecyparis.
The Southern Living Plant Collection also boasts the green- and gold-variegated Golden Oakland™ Holly. It reaches 15- to 20-feet in height, and no matter the color of Encore flower or shade of winter foliage, all would perform as a picturesque partnership.
Five of the seven Encore Azaleas with winter foliage are pink. Three are intermediate varieties, reaching 4-foot plus—Autumn Carnation with ruffled semi-double flowers, Autumn Empress with semi-double flowers and Autumn Jewel with almost iridescent blossoms.
Each of these, as well as the two dwarf selections – Autumn Princess with ruffled pink semi-double flowers and Autumn Sundance with its lavender freckled pink flowers—would look exquisite with Juliet™ or Romeo™ Cleyera. These upright shrubs feature white or buttery golden variegation and reach 8- to 10-feet tall. Each is cold hardy in zones 7-10.
Last, I mention everyone’s favorite color – the deep saturated red of the ruffled, semi-double, dwarf Autumn Bonfire. It, too, would look exceptional with every partner mentioned so far, but the Southern Living Plant Collection is large and offers an extremely exotic and lush tropical opportunity with ‘Spider’s Web’ Fatsia.
This fatsia is recommended for zones 7–9 and features large palmate leaves providing a bold texture – one of high contrast with all Encore Azaleas. The leaves display white splashing along with a white stippled look. Place this shrub in fertile, organic-rich azalea soil at the edge of a woodland, and combine it with your favorite Encore Azaleas. This partnership will be one you will photograph for years to come.