Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Encore! Encore!

Umm, Ellen, something's wrong with our azaleas.

Most people think of azaleas as spring bloomers, and traditional azaleas certainly are. So when my client saw the azaleas in bloom in her garden in November (!!!), naturally she thought something was wrong. What she didn't know was that I'd planted Encore Azaleas: the exception to the spring-blooming rule.

Originally advertised as hardy to zone 7, Encore Azaleas weren't considered suitable for most parts of the greater NYC area. But three years ago, at a Garden Writers' symposium, I was offered a few free plants to try and asked to give feedback on their performance. Even though they weren't guaranteed to thrive in zone 6 I figured it was worth a try, and hey, they were free!

The first year I got no autumn bloom, and the second I saw only a few fall flowers. But this year...the encore burst forth! General wisdom for this part of the country says perennials take three years to really get established; perhaps the same can be said for flowering shrubs. In containers and in the ground, the Encore Azaleas have hit their stride.

There are 24 different varieties of Encore Azaleas, but only 10 are rated hardy for zone 6. Still, there's a wide selection of colors to choose from. They're not demanding plants. Mine (well, my client's) get very little coddling: irrigation and perhaps one feeding per growing season. The plant by the sidewalk is subject to all kinds of abuse: both human and canine.

I often hesitate to extol the virtues of a plant that's been given to me by a grower, lest someone think I have been bribed or unduly influenced. But I'm truly impressed by the performance of the Encore Azaleas and recommend them without hesitation. I'd even pay money for them.

This azalea is not in jail. It's thriving in a sidewalk container garden on East 61st Street, despite being subject to all sorts of canine depredations.


meemsnyc said...

Azaleas blooming in the fall! Awesome.

Ellen Spector Platt said...

FYI, The Encore Azelea that I got at the same time as Other Ellen at the same meeting looks beautiful in the spring but has not re-bloomed. Same care.

Ellen Zachos said...

OE, I know the Encores haven't done as well for you as they have for me, and I also know it's NOT because I'm a better gardener! I wonder if it's a hardiness issue. Your terrace is 17 floors up and pretty windy. I always tell my students they need to plant for colder temps with containers on high floors. I'm thinking your rooftop may be more zone 5-ish. Just a guess.

Nathan said...

Nice Blog. Keep up the excellent work ;)

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