Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My spotty past with Azaleas


Ahhhhh, Azaleas! They come into bloom with their welcome jolt of color in late April/early May around these parts. What a magnificent sight they are, flowers in nearly every Technicolor hue flitting like butterflies across delicate twiggy armatures. Some grow extremely tall and wide, others are pruned into gorgeous sculptural shapes.

Did you know that all Azaleas are members of the Rhododendron family, but not all Rhodies are Azaleas? Can someone tell me why this is? I grow both Azaleas and Rhododendrons, and here’s one thing I have learned about BOTH: I have a hard time keeping them alive. Maybe that’s why I draw them instead, because you can’t kill a drawing! (Click over here to be reminded that you’d love to have your very own copy of our photopolymer Azalea set...)

So yeah, my history with Azaleas, not so great! I snapped this photo of my red Azalea the other morning. It was planted by the previous owners of our house probably 16 years ago. If you saw the size of this wee specimen of shrubbery, you might think it was planted yesterday. It’s paltry. I’m sure it needs more sun, more mulch, more acidic soil, more fertilizer, and generally, more attention. I’ve tried those things with other Azaleas around the yard, and they have all basically given me the brush.

When Lulu was still a toddler, I planted a row of white and pink Azaleas at the back of the house, taking care to give them proper space, soil amendments, and so forth. Man alive, they were LOADED with buds when I brought them home from the garden center. They bloomed happily that spring, and I pruned them carefully afterwards. I spread pine needles at their bases to supplement their soil requirements. I watered, I fussed. Within a year, both pinks were no longer with us. The three white ones died a couple seasons later.

My mom, Susan (gardener extraordinaire and cheerleader-in-chief), reminded me that the best gardeners have killed many plants. Not intentionally of course, but she explained that you have to kill some in order to learn about the various needs of the plants, to become a better gardener and really, become a student of horticulture. It’s part of the process. That said, do I have to kill that many to get where I need to be? Apparently I do. Get this, I just realized that the rose-colored variety growing in the front of the house didn’t make it through the winter after 15 years of showy shenanigans.

Azaleas: You have got my number.

Here’s a pretty white one I photographed last weekend in my folks’ garden. Good job, Mom and Steve!

Well, that’s enough gardening self-pity for one day. I’m off to go pull some invasive violets, clear the leaves from the beds and pathways, and build a few bamboo teepees for my Clematis vines which are starting to meander where they don’t belong (such as across the sidewalk).

One last thing before I disappear into the wilderness of my tiny backyard. You all have kept me very busy filling orders from Power Poppy’s all digital botanical stamp release!! THANK YOU SO MUCH for the wonderful response to our images and sentiments, for the notes you all have left on my blog and the design team’s blogs, or stashed in with your orders or email correspondence. It is very gratifying to know that my illustrations are resonating with you!

And so many people were excited to be able to work with Digis of my artwork. In case you missed it, Bloom Brigadier Julie Koerber wrote up the most A-W-E-S-O-M-E tutorial on digital images—it’s a must-read, must-bookmark, must must must must.

Thank you again to Power Poppy’s talented design team. The Bloom Brigade brightened up the whole internet with their display of Peonies, Gladioli, Gerbera Daisies, and Tulips in a zillion combinations. Their creativity and can-do spirits absolutely filled me — and many of you! — will delight and awe. They make me swoon daily. Thank you ladies!!!

Enjoy your beautiful spring day — and do share with us some of your tips for growing Azaleas and Rhododendrons. I, for one, really need to know!


Anonymous said...

Hi Marcella. My sister in NC just passed on your blog site and I am happy that she did. I love all the flowers in your garden and yes, I am crazy about all things flowers. I have hydrangeas and just love them. Also a love for roses. Love your site and will be buying some digis soon. Just got a laptop and am still trying to get it all set up (not very computer literate).

I am OH SO thankful for Julie's great tutorial on digital stamps. Looking forward to seeing more on your website. Good luck with those rhoddies. they all have minds of their own.


CherylQuilts said...

Oh, Marcella, this is funny! Yes, I think your mom is right about having to "kill" some plants to be more successful! My husband now has become our gardener and is having such wonderful success with orchids (we live in South Florida). They are blooming beautifully, and I only wish we were able to grow some of the flowers we used to when we lived in New Jersey. But I wouldn't move back for anything! I'll settle on your GORGEOUS images to play with! Thanks so much for sharing and for giving us digital images this month! It's fabulous! And Julie definitely wrote up a FABULOUS tutorial on digital stamps! Thanks, Julie! I've pinned it under Techniques and PowerPoppy! Hugs!

Allison Cope said...

Not to worry Marcy! I don't have a green thumb to save my life. The only thing I seem to be able to keep alive and thriving is a peace lily and an African violet that my son gave me for Mother's Day 2 years ago. Nothing else survives my non-green hands! :)

Theresa's Studio said...

I too share your battles with azaleas which I love. I think the last 2 azaleas that I have in the front yard did not survive our cold winter but I have your stamps to grow. Thanks to Julie for her amazing tutorial.

Anonymous said...

I never thought that I would like digits, but you have changed my mind, I love the ones you designed. I am having so much fun coloring them. Hopefully you will do more of them in the future. Thanks, Mary L Schreiber

Barbara said...

Marcella, I have been a big fan of yours for some time and am loving your designs at Power Poppy. I to am a big fan of digi stamps and have been purchasing and coloring them quite a while, so I was so happy to see you announce the release of your digi's. Love all the beautiful detail and soft feminine style you add to them. As for Julie's was full of information that I hadn't taken advantage of and am so grateful that she took the time to share it with us. Can't wait to see what your flower garden has in store for us next.

Carol Southern said...

I just logged onto your shop site and the main page hit me with such a colour is fantastic and I love it. All those beautiful cards that the DT have done recently.
I bought many, many of your images years ago and now purchased three of the digi ones. Saves on postage to Australia and so quick I don't have to wait.
Thanks for a wonderful site and love your work.

Stacy Morgan said...

Hey miss brown thumb here speaking... I totally get it girlie. I have actually kept mine alive although I told Leslie one looks like its trying to leave me. ha ha! I will keep with the paper flowers too, you just keep drawing them. :-)

Dawn B. said...

You may need to move south. We have them everywhere here in NC. My neighbor keeps hers in pots and lets them go dormant in her garage every winter. They like our hot hot humid weather. Love this little post. :)