Horticultural Anomalies and Azaleas

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!


  1. You sure did have a frosty morning. It looks like the sugar faries were out dusting your garden with sugar.

    As to the azalea I am not familiar with it. Perhaps if the azalea was protected by buildings and or sidewalks and parking lots they were able to bloom. This was a confusing summer and now fall for all plants.

  2. Oh wow... I love that picture of your own garden. Pretty enough without the azalea, but those purple blooms would be icing on the cake! I hope someone has good info for you on that.

    Thanks for pointing out the amsonia tabernaemontana you have, by the way--now I'm even more excited for mine to start turning colors in the fall. :)

  3. I don't like to pop your balloon, but it's entirely possible the azaleas enjoy a warmer microclimate being next to a building. Even if those azaleas grow well for you, they might not bloom as late into the fall for you.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow... Could be, but these azaleas were on the north side of the building, a bit down from the entrance (and an overhang), so they seemed as out in the open as they would be in my garden.

    Blackswamp_Girl... I hope someone has some info on the azaleas, too. There just seemed to be too many blooms to be some kind of fluke of the season.

    Kathy... Could be, could well be. But I won't know until/unless I try. I guess it depends on how expensive they are, how willing I am to give them a shot in my garden.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  5. I had meant to add that I bet you're right about the azalea being an encore and not just having rebloom. Two years ago I had about 5 fall blooms on my rhodie, but that wasn't even half of the buds it had!

    Re: Kathy's comment, I know that your silverbell is out near the fence, but... is there space near the house that you have to walk by (with your bag of soil amendments) to get to it? If so, then you could plant the 'Encore' azaleas there so you remember to amend the when you do the tree. Just a thought!

  6. Carol, if anybody can get those azaleas to bloom, it would be you. I wouldn't know an azalea if I saw one so can't help you with any info on Encore (big surprise).

    But here's something you need to know to solve your "I haven't got my camera with me" problem. A camera phone. I just upgraded my cruddy old cell phone and suddenly realized I no longer have to miss all the shots I see when my digital camera is at home. I'm thrilled and you can be too!

  7. Hi Carol, I've been so busy this month that I missed GBD. It's getting chilly here now, so there's not much going on. But I've still got a few things in flower so I'll post next week.
    This is just to tell you that I posted your link for the Garden Bloggers' Retro Carnival today. Thanks for participating!

  8. Just what I need, a new twist to again tempt me with Azaleas & Rhodos! Now I'll have to stiffen my resolve even further to resist their siren call. If I give in, I know it will only result in disappointment, as I'm in Zone
    5a. I hope they are successful for you, they sound wonderful.

  9. Hi Carol! completely unrelated but I wanted to let you know I read the article from American Gardener about garden blogs - YOU ARE FAMOUS!!! I was so excited to see your blog in the article! Nice work!

  10. Pam in South Carolina posted about the reblooming 'Encore' azaleas - in her blooms day post she sounded tired of looking at them!

    What's this about you being famous? Tell us, Carol!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Your lawn and garden look wonderful even with the frost-covered lawn.

    The idea of having Azaleas re-bloom is great. I hope you try some and then you'll have more flowers to enjoy for a longer time!

  12. Blackswamp_Girl... That's an idea, though in that area, closer to the house, I have no room for an azalea. I'll keep researching.

    LostRoses... I thought everyone knew what an azalea looked like! The camera cell phone is a good idea, I'll have to look into that.

    Sue Swift... Thanks for including me in your blog carnival. I checked it out, great job!

    Mr. McGregor's Daugher... I know what you mean! I had not given a thought to having a decent azalea, and then I saw these...

    Gina... Thanks! I was happy to be involved with the article and owe Doug Green some thanks for including me.

    Annie in Austin... Thanks for the tip. I went back to Pam's blog and found her comment about the azalea and left a comment to find out more. I'm not sure I'm famous, but if you haven't seen the article on garden blogs in The American Gardener, check out the link to it on my sidebar.

    Kate... I may have to try some just to find out if they will grow around here. I'd be doing a favor for all the gardeners in central Indiana, right?

    Thanks all for the comments and kind words.
    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  13. Haven't read the article yet, (this is me, being behind again...) but bravo to you for being included in Doug's article. And I add my vote to your ability to coax this azalea (whatever it is) into blooming and flourishing even if it's a marginally hardy one. Do you think you can resist tempations?

  14. Carol I have stopped being surprised by the blossoms that I see in November! I have so many lovely mini roses just singing and growing even though we are into single digit temperatures!! Roses at the end of Sept. I should do a post and show them!! I have a serviceberry that had berries last yr. but none this!! I have a male and female!
    :( NG & :) for the roses!

  15. I planted an azalea this spring - I'll have to find the tag to see what it is. It was quite healthy and good-sized and I have great hopes that it will live through the winter. It's a guaranteed one, so I won't be out the money if it doesn't, but I WANT AN AZALEA, darn it! (This is my second attempt.)

    I do have a small one that I brought home from Florida two winters ago that survived last winter, but it didn't bloom. Still, I count that as a partial success. Maybe it will bloom next spring!

  16. Hi Carol,

    I think its just a quirk of nature because my neighbors PJM Rhodo is in full bloom and it's not a re-bloomer. Talk about strange I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a witchhazel blooming as well.

  17. It could be an encore azalea. Sometimes it is worth it to walk right over where something is when you are looking at a pro. landscaping job. Sometimes they leave the tags on the plants so you can see what it really is. This is how I learned that the roses at the library which bloomed and bloomed and bloomed all summer were "Knock out" roses.

    And it is such fun to have a spring flower that reblooms int he fall. I tried out one of the reblooming irises that are out ther eto see it they really worked, and it did bloom in October. It caused a lot of my clients to ask me if it was confused or not.

  18. Jodi... if I find an Encore Azalea in a garden center around here, I don't think I'll be able to resist. Be sure and read the blog article!

    NatureGirl... Nature always surprises us, flowers when we don't expect them are wonderful to have and enjoy.

    Kylee... I never had the desire to have an azalea until I saw these!

    Carolyn Gail... That is entirely possible, given how dry our summer was, and how the heat lasted into early October. I'm going to see what is in the garden centers in the spring.

    Healingmagichands... I probably won't be back at that conference center until February, and by then the tags, if there are any, could be buried in snow.

    Thanks all for the comments and kind words,
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens


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