© Dennett — Coastal Azalea / March 31, 2024

Mystery Azalea

A volunteer flower story

From my chair in the living room, I can look out our patio doors and through the back porch screens to my garden area, then to wild trees and bushes, then to Unicorn Lake.

My garden area consists of avocado and ficus trees, a mature Starburst Clerodendrum and several small volunteer Starbursts, and white and pink traditional Azalea bushes. Other than the avocado and ficus trees, which I planted, everything else was here when we moved in.

In the “wild” area, the trees are mostly pine and oak with a scattering of Palmetto bushes. Beyond the trees are two Flame Azaleas — one in bloom and the other just budding. The previous owner of our unit planted those.

© Dennett — Flame Azaleas / March 31, 2024

Yesterday, as I gazed toward the lake, I saw a gathering of white flowers in the wild area. What? There aren’t any white flowers there. I wondered if the white Azalea had sent out suckers that took root in the wild area. That seemed unlikely. Although traditional Azaleas will send out suckers, they are always near the roots of the parent bush. The flowers I saw were at least six yards away.

I took my camera and went to investigate. The flowers (lead photo) looked like white Flame Azaleas, but Flame Azaleas (Rhododendron calendulaceum) range from yellow to orange to red — not white.

After researching, I discovered that the volunteer bush with white flowers is a Coastal Azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum), also known as Dwarf Azalea. Interestingly, the Internet tells me this azalea grows in zones six to eight — in other words, from New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Georgia. Florida is zone nine.

We’ve lived here for almost seven years. I know the Coastal Azalea bush, nestled between trees and a Palmetto, is new, but I have no idea how it arrived here.

Sometimes, we must simply accept that nature is full of mysteries and surprises we will never understand.

© Dennett — Coastal Azalea / March 31, 2024

© Dennett 2024

Flower Photography
Recommended from ReadMedium