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Worth waiting for: gorgeous azaleas make an appearance


Dear All,

Sincere thanks for all your comments on my blogs and photos, and apologies for not responding to many of them. They are greatly appreciated.

For those of you who have followed the ‘action’ – if that is the right word for gardening – so far, you will remember that the garden was overgrown – basically fringe jungle – but with hundreds of azaleas growing, some wild, some clearly planted by a previous owner. However, owing to there being an overgrown canopy, and too many competing plants, and total neglect, coupled with me being in Cambridge (UK) the year before last, I had only actually seen a few flowering – and poorly at that. I could only guess and speculate what they would look like. Different leaf shapes indicated at least 10 varieties, but what would emerge – if at all – had always been a delightful waiting game. Well, I’ve cleared some areas, and last year did some rescue-pruning.

I am delighted to report that the azaleas seem to be responding well! Bearing in mind these are all 30+ year old specimens, I have some lovely blood-red colours, a melting pink, purples, and many others breaking into bud. I attach a photo of one of the better ones along the driveway. I think you will agree it is quietly spectacular. Because it is quite shaded there surrounded by the mountain maples and mountain cherry, the colour sort of ‘pops’ (to use an expression from that strangely addictive American Choppers). A little further along is a reddish rust coloured one which is also delightful. Towards the front of the driveway is a beautifully soft pink one – though not flowering profusely.

What is arguably more exciting, is that next week I have my uncle visiting us from Australia – and he is the country’s leading expert on Satsuki (Azalea) bonsai (check out the Satsuki Society of Australasia) for some examples of his work. So I will have a real expert on hand to advise me on pruning strategies etc to really get the best out of the many hundreds of azaleas that I have. It would be thrilling to get them all performing t their potential.

Elsewhere in the garden, the roses are doing magnificently, and I hope to upload some flowering images in the next two weeks. I have a rash of Iris Japonica (wild) in flower at the moment, which combine nicely with some freesias in the vase (which I had planted believing to be dwarf daffodils – the description was in Japanese); until the scent wafted past my nostrils one day, and I knew immediately the error of my ways! The two peaches are also doing well and have, remarkably, survived the winter. I’ve rubbed off all the fruitlets leaving about two per branch – evenly spaced -in the hope of bringing them to pungent ripeness in a couple of months. Who knows what the insects will make of them. My apples have again not blossomed, but Fuji and overs are notoriously late providers and I expect to have to wait another three or four years for fruit. I have a neighbour a little way down the mountainside who rather smugly intimated that they would never fruit because his pot-bound thing had never done so; I rather slyly replied that it was a matter of pruning and technique, and am determined – if nothing else – to make the things bloom at least once, just for the satisfaction!

The Magnolia grandiflora has a problem: it has viable leaf buds, but just fails to move. Everything else is in full leaf and we are now about 22 degrees, but it just sits there, a skeleton. I’ve no idea, frankly, what is wrong with it, but I’m going to dig it up, examine the roots, prune it back harshly, and replant elsewhere in the garden, in the hopes of stimulating it somehow. Will let you know how that goes. The peonies are doing very well and the yellow one is in bloom. Returning to the fruit garden, the gooseberries have a bumper crop coming along nicely as is the rhubarb (a bit of an ex-pat longing for the classics, rhubarb crumble and gooseberry fool).

Oh…and after too many years, I finally got my PhD….such a relief (and perhaps also justifies a few extra hours in the garden….)


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Congratulations Ptaro on the degree and the work you have done to ensure beautiful azaleas, I,m sure youe fruit trees will blossom for you.....a nice dose of potash should help

21 May, 2013


Thanks pamg!

The potash might work. The problem in Japan is getting the right stuff! But I'll try. First I'll have to weed all round the trees because the nut shells I put down as insulation during the winter - although did a great job - also protected all the vicious weeds here. Move over knotweed and brambles, there is stuff here that makes them seem harmless! Thanks for the congrats on the doctorate too. Ptarotuos

21 May, 2013


I,ve read somewhere that woodash contains potash Ptaro maybe you could google it

22 May, 2013

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