The First Azalea’s Blooming at Sleepy Cat Farm

The First Azalea’s Blooming at Sleepy Cat Farm

The first Azalea to bloom at Sleepy Cat Farm is the Rhododendron dauricum f. “album” – a pure white Azalea (Rhododendron ssp), that grows 5-8 feet tall and thrives in our shaded woodland. For most of the Winter, it appears as a leggy plant with small evergreen leaves at the tips of the branches, which seem to cry out to be pruned back.

Patiently, I waited and this week it has suddenly burst into full bloom. It is a welcome sight, coinciding with the blossoms of Scilla, Crocus and Chinodoxa bulbs.

Locally, there is a nice collection of Rhodendron, which can be seen at The Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford. The late Dr. Gustav Mehlquist of The University of Connecticut crossed Rhododendron dauricum with Rhododendron mucronulatum, among his many crosses, and created some lovely hybrids, including The April Series. These have bountiful early blossoms on more compact plants.

I knew Dr. Mehlquist during my early years as a member of The New York  Hortus Club. His work is well worth remembering each year at this time.

For more information read: “The Mehlquist Garden: Rhododendron Revival at The Bartlett Arboretum” by Mike Rachinsky of the Journal American Rhododendron Society.