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A Light Bulb in the Garden

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Apr 11, 2016

Azaleas can add great colour to a garden
Spring is in full swing now and gardens are starting to erupt in to life at the moment. This is one of my favourite times of the year in the garden as every time you go outside there seems to be a new discovery. Be it a spring bulb coming in to flower or the subtler milestone of a shrub breaking into leaf. These little moments in the garden’s lifecycle really fill a gardeners heart with optimism for the gardening year ahead. 

For me there are a few plants in particular that announce springs arrival in the garden. One plant that really sings Spring’s arrival is azaleas. Particularly in the CountryLife Garden Centre over the past few days many visitors have been commenting on the vibrant burst of colour the azaleas have been adding to the displays around the centre. 

Because of their vibrant flower colours I always think that azaleas are just like a light bulb in the garden. When they finally burst in to flower each year the entire garden seems brighter and more cheerful thanks to their addition. 

In the past azaleas were considered a tricky plant to grow but this is really not the case though. As long as you are aware of the right conditions for growing azaleas you can get fantastic results. 

One of the most important things is to have the correct soil type. Azalea plants will not tolerate alkaline soil and much prefer a rich acidic soil with a PH level from 5-6. pH. I always recommend that a gardener test their soils so they know exactly what they are working before investing in plants like azaleas. 

Hot Shot is a brilliant vibrant red varietyLuckily if you don’t have the right soil conditions in your garden already it is very easy to alter your soil to create a better growing environment. You can special acidic composts and also plant feeds that will lower the pH of your soil for you. If you do this however it is important to remember that you need to top it up regularly or you will loose the effects of it in the soil. 

There are two main types of azalea that you will come across in most garden Japanese azaleas and deciduous azaleas. Japanese azaleas are the first to come into flower in spring while deciduous azaleas flower slightly later in spring going into early summer. Deciduous azaleas also grow much taller reaching up to 4 foot at maturity. The flowers on deciduous azaleas also tend to be much more intense in colour. The flowers are much more vivid and come in almost neon shades. 

If you are looking for a deciduous azalea to include in your garden Oriental Queen is a good one to consider with its bright orange flowers. Or if you are want something a bit more subtle Silver Slipper has brilliant blush white flowers that can have an equally as good impact on a flower bed in spring. 

Silver-Sword-has-great-varigated-folliage-Blog-BodySilver Sword is a great Japanese variety that has tremendous variegated leaves with a creamy edge to the leaves. The flowers come in a bright pinkish red colour. Anyone who is looking for a good compact variety should look for Anouk. It would work very well planted in a rockery which is where I have one planted in my own garden. The one I have at home has been planted for a few years now and is still only around a foot tall making it a great choice if you are limited for space. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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