Monday, May 13, 2013

Exuberant Azaleas!

Exuberant Azaleas!

Last year the azaleas in front of our house bloomed in nice, neat, round bushes, as they have for years. They gave the entrance a pleasing and colorful approach. Most of the other azalea bushes in the neighborhood behaved in a similar way. They were polite. Refined. At the end of the season, I pruned the bushes to remove some dead branches, being careful about pruning off the buds that are laid down after the plants bloom. I expected another year of dignified flowering.

This year they flowered, right on schedule, sending out their customary peachy blossoms. Only something changed. The bushes became exuberant! They shot out beyond their customary shape and reached for the sun. There is no restraint here. I had never seen anything like it.

Each time I think I should do something about the wildness, I end up smiling instead. When I come home, I have to stop for a minute to enjoy the fullness of the bushes and the in-your-face burst of flowers before going inside. My friend, coming to visit, stood dumbfounded when she saw the azaleas.  “They don’t usually grow like that,” she said. Certainly not in suburban gardens. Then she said something about them fitting in with my energy.

That got me thinking. There are thousands of varieties of azaleas, with different colors, heights, petals, and growing patterns - in their own particular way. There are billions of people expressing themselves in their own particular ways. And why not? There is energy in diversity.  If we can tolerate, even desire, variety in Mother Nature then why not in human nature, too?  There may be surprises, sometimes problems, but most often there is dynamic growth.

A helpful guide to growing azaleas:

For FAQ and in-depth answers, try the Azalea Society of America’s website:


  1. What a wonderful essay. Once again, you have reminded us of the lessons we can learn from nature. I love your observations!

  2. Thanks, Claire! I wish you were here to enjoy those energetic azaleas with us.