|Azaleas in bloom at Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina|
Recently while looking through an old photograph album, I came across snapshots of Norfolk, Virginia's 1976 Azalea Festival Parade. Azalea Queen Susan Ford, whose father served as US president at the time, graced one of the parade floats.
Norfolk is but one of many cities in the American South that celebrate the azalea. Next weekend (April 5-7, 2013) Summerville, South Carolina hosts the annual Flowertown Festival. Wilmington, NC holds the North Carolina Azalea Festival (April 10-14, 2013).
Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry azaleas are bursting into bloom. Drive around old neighborhoods and you see enormous shrubs dwarfing small houses. Magenta blossoms are prevalent in my subdivision, yet many of us homeowners can't resist planting a mixture of azalea varieties. Sometimes their colors clash.
|Azaleas in bloom at Tenryū-ji, Kyoto, Japan|
|A homeowner in my neighborhood uses azaleas as a hedge|
|George L. Taber azaleas are a favorite of mine. One came with the house. I've planted two more.|
|These white blossoms (growing on azaleas planted by a previous owner of my house) look to me as though they belong in a wedding bouquet|
|A dropped blossom at Hampton Park|
By the way, at some point the Norfolk festival leadership changed its name to the International Azalea Festival. In 2009 they changed its name again - this time to the Norfolk NATO Festival. That is why when you visit the azaleafestival.org website the focus is not azaleas.
For more information about azaleas, visit the website of the Azalea Society of America: http://azaleas.org/index.html.