The azaleas are in bloom.  WOW! Are they ever in bloom!!  I love them at this time of year, when all the pretty pinks and whites are so showy all over Shreveport.  You can’t look in any single direction without seeing them.  They are so fluffy and impressive! The problem is, I hate them for the rest of the year.  I find that when they are not blooming, they look scraggly and unkept.  Some owners prune them into hedges and such, but then they look too confined when they do bloom.  I love their messiness in bloom, but can’t stand it otherwise.  Perhaps if they could just bloom for, say, 3 or 4 months at a time rather than 3 to 4 weeks a year.  And they only stay really pretty if the spring rains stay away.  A good hard storm can kill the beauty of the azaleas overnight. 

The one remaining azalea in my yard blooms on approximately one-third of its branches, which means I get about three flowers in the spring.  The rest of the year it looks like the stepchild of yard ornaments.  I so need to cut it down, but I feel just a tad, well, disloyal in doing so.  I am a true-blue home-grown Southerner, shamefully despising my poor little azalea bush. 

My grandmother recently told me that she had purchased the Encore Azalea, which is supposed to bloom repeatedly throughout the season.  I was thrilled at the news of this hybrid, and excitedly asked if they really did bloom as advertised.  “Well, no.  Azalea blooms aren’t supposed to last very long, you know.”  I felt so deflated.    

I bought an Endless Summer Hydrangea yesterday.  Their large happy leaves look good even when they don’t have many blooms.  I hope it can curb my azaleas-in-bloom lust and ultimately redeem me as a Southern garden enthusiast.  Even though I know that’s a lot to ask of a plant…