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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

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Rhododendron "Rosy Lights" Formerly Known as an Azalea

I am a plant growing in Allan’s garden and I am not certain of my identity. My given name is Rosy Lights but my family name is puzzling. I used to belong to the Azalea family until botanists tested my DNA. From the results, they concluded that I am a Rhododendron. Why did they have to go and do that? Did they not realize how long it took me to learn how to spell azalea?

I find it hard to believe that I am actually a rhodo because I am not a broad-leafed evergreen. My foliage, which is smaller than theirs is, turns brown and drops off in autumn. Rhododendrons maintain their green foliage all winter. Allan likes them better than he likes me because, throughout the year, their leaves help to camouflage the foundation of his house. In addition, they are more substantial looking, their form is more elegant, and they make a more effective glossy green background for perennials than my foliage does.

In winter, I look barren compared to a rhododendron. Even in spring, there are noticeable empty spaces among my branches because I am gangly, my small sized foliage doesn’t spread far enough, and my shape is not as symmetrical as a rhodo is. That’s why I am placed away from the foundation, among the other seasonal plants. The foundation is reserved for those shapelier plants that are also reliable camouflagers. In small urban gardens, I am used as an ornamental shrub among the perennials. I don’t mind and remain proud because I bring breathtaking beauty to the garden.

In this photo shoot, I am seen blooming in the flowerbed in the second week of May, in Zone 4 and, except for spring flowering bulbs and Pulmonaria, nothing else is flowering now to give the homeowner pleasure. I have the garden to myself and there, I put on an eye-catching display.

Did you notice how photogenic I am? Is it because my flowers are iridescent? Or, did nature outdo herself when she designed my flower head? Some people confuse me with an orchid. Thanks for the flattery, but I believe that I am far more interesting. In this garden, I am known as an attention grabber. That feels good. It makes Allan feels good too, just to look at me.

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Reader Comments (1)

Very clever post! Almost all of the rhodies and azaleas around eastern Washington look chlorotic and sickly, so I haven't even bothered to try any. So sad, since they regularly eat houses in Western Washington, they're so vigorous. The flowers are definitely eye-grabbing! Glad yours has a secure spot in the border.

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVW

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