When? When will I remember that I should always take my camera with me wherever I go? You just never know when you'll encounter something unusual and want to take a picture of it.
Today, instead of going to work in the dark, I stayed at home a little longer and went to a conference center for a half day seminar. I was home long enough to take a picture of a very frosty lawn, framed by a Serviceberry which is just beyond its peak of fall color but still quite striking.
This Serviceberry is Amelanchier x grandiflora and might be the variety 'Autumn Brilliance'. I'll have to find the tag to be sure. I grow it as a single trunked tree, but more often I see them grown as multi-trunked tree.
Anyway, getting to the conference center was a bit of a pain with traffic and then the primary parking garage was full when I got there, which all contributed to me running late. I don't like to be late. As I entered the building, I took in the big picture view of the landscaping at the entrance and noted that it was nice and obviously professionally designed and maintained.
When I left at lunch time, I had a bit more time and took a closer look at the landscape. I don't know if I saw the stunning fall foliage first or the pale purple flowers but I took a double-take when I saw some azaleas blooming. They were blooming enough that from a distance I could see the flowers.
Now, I know that spring flowering shrubs and trees form their flower buds in the summer/fall and that on occasion, a few of these flower buds can get confused and bloom in the fall instead. But usually, that's just a few scattered, hard to find, blooms. This was a lot of bloom. A lot of bloom.
I wondered if this azalea bloom that I saw was a horticultural anomaly or a characteristic of this particular variety of azalea.
I did a quick online search this evening and found the Encore Azaleas which bloom in the spring and then again in mid-summer into fall. Could those that I saw earlier today be Encore Azaleas? It isn't real obvious how hardy they are from what I could find online initially, but I did finally find some info that some varieties are at least hardy to zone 6a. Maybe with some special care, they would overwinter in my zone 5b garden? It is certainly encouraging to have seen them blooming in my city, if indeed they were Encore Azaleas.
These azaleas could be an answer to having some blooms in my garden in November! See how frosty it was in the picture above? It had to have been just as frosty where I saw those azaleas still blooming.
I've never even considered planting azaleas in my garden because of their desire to grow in acidic soil. But now that I have to acidify the soil for my new Carolina Silverbell, maybe I'll just acidify a little bit larger area and try some of these azaleas.
Does anyone have an Encore Azalea? Does anyone have one who is gardening north of zone 6a, like me? Do they really rebloom reliably? I'm going to keep investigating these through the winter. Who knows, this spring I might be planting azaleas in my garden!