QBARS - v30n4 Fall's Fine Flavors

Reprinted from the Seattle Chapter Newsletter

Have you noticed how short the days are now? Your rhododendrons and azaleas have noticed, and they are preparing for winter. Let's explore that.
A well-designed landscape is in "bloom" again. All of the well-known brilliant fall coloring deciduous trees and shrubs are in fine color, especially if they have been nipped by the frost. Some of the most brilliant coloring plants are trees such as Staghorn Sumac, Acer rubrum varieties, Smoke Bush, Peaches, Japanese Plums, d'Anjou Pears, Stewartia pseudocamellia , Cotoneaster pendula , Viburnum opulus and Blueberries.
What do rhododendrons and azaleas have to offer? Mollis and Exbury azalea foliage turn to shades of rich yellows and lush orange tones while most yellow-flowered varieties turn to fiery brilliant reds and satin-rich maroons, betraying their species forbearers such as R. luteum , R. calendulaceum and R. bakeri .
The Japanese section azalea species (Subseries Schlippenbachii) such as R. albrechtii , R. reticulatum , R. schlippenbachii , R. amagianum , R. sanctum and R. quinquefolium , turn vibrant glowy orange-red shades.
R. mucronulatum leaves turn shades of pinks and yellows. R. dauricum 's evergreen leaves turn to rich maroon red tones which remain all winter, as do those of its hybrids such as 'PJM', 'Emasculum' and 'Tessa'. Brownish maroon tones dominate R. keiskei leaves. R. lutescens and its hybrids frequently show claret-red tones of fine color.
The Trichocladum Series plants of R. mekongense, R. semilunatum and R. caesium often display a salt-and-pepper effect of green and bright red leaves that is very pleasant to the eye. 'Olive' and 'Praecox' often show a partial deciduous leaf-fall of fine yellow color.
Many of the Kurume-Amoenum hybrid types of Japanese evergreen azaleas show strong green-maroon to red-maroon to claret-red leaf colors that will remain all through the winter.
The parent species R. obtusum and R. kiusianum also undergo similar color changes. The new Dutch Azaleodendrons 'Ria Hardijzer' and 'Hardijzer's Pink Beauty' (Kurume azalea x R. racemosum ) show a satin-sheen, deep maroon winter color that is very showy.
Many Lapponicum, Triflorum and Uniflorum Series species show evergreen leaf color changes from greens and blue-greens of summer dress to dusky tones of maroon. Hybrids of these Series that often show color are: 'llam Violet', 'Ramapo', 'Rose Elf', 'Barto's Alpine', 'Russautinii', 'Blue Diamond', 'Oudyke's Favorite' and "Sapphire".
As you landscape your home, feature these rhododendrons and azaleas in the foreground borders and in prominent display areas, where you can be delighted by their brilliant fall colors or where you can savor their dusky, subtle maroon tints all winter long.