Adrian Higgins boldly claimed this week that azaleas are overdone, that people plant them regardless of color schemes and prune them into horrible balls. He's right, of course, at least a little. Sure, they're overdone in Washington, and in many gardens they are the only plants you see. But they make beautiful cut flowers, and planted right - in naturalistic settings, in shade - they can be beautiful.
My house came with a few azaleas in front that have grown over the last twenty years into an imposing presence. Okay, I would not have chosen this color (especially since it clashes with the coral bells, also in bloom now), but for two weeks a year I can live with it and even like it.
But take it out entirely? Higgins suggests such a thing, but I don't think I'm brave enough - or motivated enough. Even though it would open up another three or four feet at the back of the garden.
Meanwhile, the white azaleas in back are blooming now and looking quite elegant. This is the one I transplanted twice, and it seems happy here against the fence.
Yes, to most eyes it would appear etiolated and wee, but I prefer to see it as a Zen azalea. Less is more.