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#BotanistLens: Azalea hills of London Town

The aura of the Azalea hills and ravines of London Town are inexpressible. One has to experience in person the depth of color, form and layers of the Azaleas rolling down the hills with the South River and mature trees in the back drop. Azaleas form the core of understory layers of London Towns woodland gardens. In April, the understory paints pretty pastel pink, purple and mauve shades as far as ones eyes can reach.

Kurumes, Glen Dales and Satsuki are some of the core groups of Azaleas found at London Town. Now these names are more of 'common names' to identify certain groups of Azaleas. For eg., "Satsuki bloom from May to June; the name “Satsuki” in Japanese is reference to their blooming period, the fifth month of the Asian lunar calendar." What is most interesting about Satsuki's is their origin, they are a natural hybrid! "Satsuki azaleas are evergreen azaleas from Japan that originated as natural hybrids between Rhododendron indicum, a plant that occupies mountainous stream sides, and R. eriocarpum, an inhabitant of the alluvial plains at the base of the mountains."

Currently, the Rhododendron indicum (Coral Bells -Kurume Azaleas) and Rhododendron schlippenbachii are showcasing their best blooms. R. schlippenbachii has an open wider form of single flowers with faint pink-white petals and leaves in whorls of five (pretty fall color). Whereas R. indicum -coral bells have a tiny flowers grouped closely with coral pink-Salmon color.

All Azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas! We will look in depth into this in the coming weeks. For the Azalea fiesta at London Town has just started.

This weekend at London Town, along with Azaleas, you will also notice some late spring blooming Camellias as well. Camellia japonica 'Kuro delight' by the dell pond is simply stunning! Now as much as we are all eager for the temperatures to warm up soon, the gradual cold to warm weather is helping the Azaleas gently open up and last longer to capture their spring charm.

Camellia japonica ‘Kuro delight’


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