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Monday, May 25, 2009


It's the time of year for mountain azaleas and the brilliant pink rhododendron. In the old days, this rhododendron we think of as pink, they called purple. The one we think of as white that will bloom next month, they called pink. They also called Rhododendron 'laurel.' Mountain laurel, due to bloom next month too, they called 'ivy.' And if I'm not wrong, I think they called the mountain azaleas honeysuckle.
The mountain azalea is a delicate thing to transplant. I've found it works best dug up and replanted while it's blooming and during rain. Sounds odd, but it works. I had a big yellow one by my parking place that I'd put there when it was small. When they came through to pave the road about ten years later I had to dig it up by shovel to get it out of their way. State road crews don't have soft hearts for beauty in the natural world. It wouldn't matter if they did. Orders are orders.
I had to carry it with a tractor and a lift to get it to the new place. I dug a good hole, watered it good and it came back. But each year it came back less, until about 4 years later it was just brittle sticks. Also, two I have came from Hawks Produce several years ago and they're coming back strong every year. They're a long ways from the road.
The mountain azalea grows in wooded places, and they're beautiful by the side of a road going through a wooded area. It is a type of rhododendron. The Latin name is rhododendron canescens. The flowers are similar, but different colors and a different kind of shrub and leaves.
They're getting rare; when they're cut down they don't come back. I had several growing on the edge of the woods across the road until the road paving crew came through and demolished every living thing near the road. Some stuff was planted along the banks that looks like something from a 50s sci fi movie like The Day of the Triffids. Aesthetic beauty is not a priority in America. Like environmentalists are ridiculed, tormented and laughed at, aesthetic beauty is a big So What. It doesn't have a pricetag; therefore, it has no value. Worthless.
Then there's the question, how do you know beauty when you see it? When I drive around a curve and there's a mountain azalea blooming by the side of the road it takes my breath every time. That's what beauty does. This one pictured above did that very thing to me this morning. I had to stop and get a picture of it for you.


  1. Definitely worth clicking to see this full size! Beautiful.

  2. Beautiful picture and written narrative.