Reprinted with permission from the Avant Gardener 1985
The new selections and hybrids of creeping and low-growing azaleas promise to be among the most popuular evergreen flowering groundcover plants. For hardiness, fine texture, beautiful bloom and ease of culture, they have few equals.
The North Tisbury hybrids grown by Mrs. Polly Hill of North Tisbury, Massachusetts, from seed sent since 1957 by the Japanese breeder Dr. Tsuneshiga Rokujo of Tokyo, are superb examples of this new breed of azaleas. They're hardy to at least -10° and bloom, depending on variety, from late May into August. Most are hybrids of the creeping Rhododendron nakaharai, the dwarfest azalea known, and grow to 12" to 16" high but spread to as much as 48".
'Late Love' is one of the finest, with petunia-size pink flowers from late June into August. The Hill series - pink 'Jeff Hill' and 'Michael Hill', and red 'Joseph Hill' and 'Susannah Hill' - average 15" and bloom from early June into July. 'Red Fountain' is almost a cascading plant and bears red flowers on its arching branches in June. Also outstanding is 'Pink Pancake', very flat growing, with big pink wavy flowers beginning in late June.
Another group of ground-covering azaleas is the Robin Hill hybrids bred over the past 50 years by Robert Gartrell of Wyckoff, New Jersey. Some of these grow a mite taller than the North Tisburys, to 18" or so. Many, like the 12" hot pink 'Mrs. Emil Hager', have camellia-like double blooms. 'Betty Ann Voss' has light pink double flowers in early May and very dense foliage. 'Dorothy Hayden' is a beautiful white single with green throat, , Jeanne Weeks' is a magnificent double lavender-pink, and 'Lady Robin' has single white flowers striped, margined or flushed pink.