Notes On Satsuki Azaleas And Their Allies
Arthur E. Radcliffe, Covington, Ga.
The Satsuki season here starts with 'Shinnyo-no-Tsuki'. The Azalea Book says "low, spreading" but the 10 to 12 year old plants here grow erect with a height of about 3 feet. The plants were a sight to behold during their blooming season which was mid-May this year (1965), well covered with their 3½ inch flowers; white throated with a margin of deep pink with its mixture of purple giving it brilliance. It is like a glorified 'Celestial Rose' petunia flower, it so closely resembles it in form of flower and in coloring. For those who admire it the two Glenn Dale hybrid azaleas, 'Martha Hitchcock' and 'Helen Gunning' resemble it but do not quite equal it in beauty.
Next come the group whose names end in "-getsu" or "-setsu." All these names are derived from some thoughts of the moon to which 'Shinnyo-noTsuki' is closely related. There is 'Seigetsu' (Sacred Moon), with wisteria-purple ground and darker penciling. 'Kingetsu', its margin of claret-rose flecked or striped with a deeper shade. 'Kagetsu' (Flowery Moon) its splendid effect is in contrast of colors, some with a faint pink coloring and some pure white until it is hard to find two flowers alike on the same plant, the shadings and penciling are so varied. 'Kagetsu' closely resembles 'Shinnyono-Tsuki' the plant only a foot or so high. 'Row-getsu', is a clear rosy-pink, its large thick, broad, rounded petals again like a glorified 'Celestial Rose' petunia flower typically chalk-white at the throat of the flower. Last in this group, 'Kaigetsu' is a plant different from all other azaleas with its deep green leaves mottled and splashed with shades of creamy-yellow yet retaining its likeness to all the "-getsus" by its darker colored margins and the white throat of its flowers. Different from all the others until the flower is fully matured it holds its petals in a crinkled form resembling so much a piece of wax-white paper burning with an orange-red flame.
In shades of pink, 'Pink Gumpo' is most common and outdoes itself in wealth of bloom. 'Izayoi' has a stiff petaled flower sometimes mottled in a halo but more often an unusual shade of deep pink with some darker spotting.
The plants here of 'Otome' are so varied in color on the same plant that it is hard to decide whether to class them as pink or white. This can also be said of 'Mai-Hime', it varies from a hard to describe shade of pink to white flowers on the same plant. Its pink flowers are a blending of deep pink with a brownish ochre.
'Wakaebisu', as it is named here, is a lovely large ruffled baby-pink with a conspicuous hose-in-hose form. It blooms in mid-May. There is also a deeper pink flowered strain that blooms in late June or early July, one of the last Satsukis to bloom.
One known here as 'Shoqua' is most unusual in its coloring being a clear peach-pink, a medium sized flower. 'Hosei', resembles the "-getsu" group; a medium sized flower, white throated with purplish-pink margins.
'Guno' as named here is another color hard to describe, a deep wisteria with purple cast. The flower is large (3¾ inches), one of the last to bloom.
'Tai-fu-Ko', closely resembles 'Pink Gumpo' in coloring; not as refined a flower for it lacks the superb ruffling formation of 'Pink Gumpo' but in spite of this its large sized flower; the largest bloom of any azalea here (5 inches) brings out "Oh's!" and "Ah's!" from those who see it in bloom.
The whites, including those with blotches or penciling of some color include some of the most striking in the Satsuki group. There is a clear white strain of 'Myogi', a gem of a plant that may grow to 2 feet in spread before it is 6 inches high. Its splendid much ruffled flowers with their chartreuse throat closely resemble 'White Gumpo' but are superior to it in every way where a low border plant is desired.
There is also a clear white strain of 'Gyrokushin' whose branches while young spread out flat on the ground as a Vinca does, only ascending as the plants get older to form a spreading mound.
The plants of 'Taipei' show very little coloring in their flowers. They are a thick petaled white as if molded from chalk-white wax. The edges of the petals are smooth and somewhat reflexed. The plants growing beside 'Myogi' show a more erect pattern of growth.
There is also a white strain of 'KowKo-Ku' that is a very lovely thing; ruffled white with a chartreuse throat but it takes careful selection to keep it that way so most plants offered for sale are splashed or striped salmon-pink.
So too there is a white strain of 'How-Ra-Ku' but most plants offered for sale are white washed with pink and striped and penciled in a most fascinating way. Much like it is 'Fukurokuju'. This is a most interesting tall grower that will often open a flower of a solid deep rich pink having an orange suffusion. The flower is large (over 4 inches), of heavy substance yet with most attractive ruffling.
A 'Gunrei' that is rose-pink is hard to find for like most of the Satsukis they sport to such an extent that most "Gunreis" are more white than rose-pink. 'Gunrei' too will he hard to tell from 'Gunrei' but 'Bunkwa' is a fine large flower, white throat with salmon variations and usually comes true to form.
'Eiten' and a lot of others are not distinct enough in flower to be appreciated as varieties by the average person.
The oldest plant here labeled 'Banka' (P.I. No. 230609) has a mound-like growth having a height of 15 inches and a spread of 30 inches. Its flowers are nice size (3½ inches), are mostly white; some show a faint suffusing of pink.
While distinct from the group called Satsukis the group called Hirados can be classed with them for they bloom with them and are large flowered.
'Amagasa' is a large leafed upright growing plant, its flowers (3¾ inches to 4 inches) of a deep pink, not too clear a pink, but the large size of its flowers and its profuse blooming habit make it a showy plant when most tall growing azaleas are past their blooming time. Much like it in flower is 'Toeho-no-Hakari' (P. I. No. 227111) but the oldest plant here stays in a mound-like form broader than tall. 'Higasa' on the other hand is outstanding in the garden here. It is a plant over 3 feet tall and nearly as broad as tall. Its location catches the rays of the setting sun and then in bloom it looks like a bush on fire. Its flowers (4 inches or over) are of a glowing orange-red.