Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'll Be With You in Azalea Time

The Free Online Dictionary, bless it, defines azalea as "any of the shrubs of the genus Rhododenron having showy, variously colored flowers." And we learn what we should always have known: the name comes from the feminine form of the Greek azeleos, meaning "dry," either because it grows in dry soil or because its woody stems are dry in texture. Well!

I guess not too many non-horticulturists care about this. What people really enjoy is the short-lived, delectable display of these flowers for a brief time in spring. At least we have something to enjoy now that the daffodils are finished. A number of places in the U.S. and abroad have azalea festivals, and a tribute to this plant is well deserved for all the pleasure provided. They're particularly big in Japan, where some of the main streets in downtown Tokyo, e.g., are lined with lush purple azaleas in full bloom. I'd better feast my eyes while I can.