Azaleas in bloom at Zilker Botanical Garden

A bit of the Old South blooms at Zilker Botanical Garden each spring. Under a green canopy of new-leafed trees, banks of pink and fuchsia azaleas remind one of Austin’s split personality, where alkaline-loving plants of the arid southwest mingle with acidic-loving plants of the lush southeast.

Tissuey, freckled blossoms spill along the limestone paths.

A valentine of an azalea

Such scenes remind me of my childhood in upstate South Carolina—or even Houston, three hours east, which has the acidic soil and higher rainfall that azaleas prefer.

Does this make me long to plant azaleas in my own garden? No, indeed. Been there, done that, and it’s not worth the effort. Besides, these big, blousy shrubs wouldn’t look right in my spiky, more southwestern garden.

But I sure did enjoy seeing them at Zilker today. If you live in Austin and want to see them too, go soon. They’re at peak bloom right now.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

13 Responses

  1. Brooke says:

    Oh Pam, that is just heaven. It is still weeks away here, but little by little we are getting there. Glad you got to enjoy it my friend!

    Here’s to spring’s arrival in your neck of the woods, Brooke. May it come soon! —Pam

  2. Caroline says:

    How on earth do they DO that? Amazing!

    Good question, Caroline. It would be interesting to know about the maintenance of the azalea garden. —Pam

  3. Amazing split personality…nice! Austin, the bipolar city of horticulture…but still looks more SE than SW to moi! Here well within SW, lots of dust…

    I bet Austin does look very lush to someone from Arizona. To someone from the east coast (myself), the trees look short and rather gnarly, the ground rocky and dry. Or rather, that’s how it used to look. I’ve come to see this as the norm, and now when I go east I’m astonished by the height and straightness of the trees and lushness of the foliage. Funny how one’s perspective changes over time. —Pam

  4. Debby says:

    Very beautiful photos!!!! I was in East Texas last week and the Dogwoods, Wisteria, and Azaleas were in their full glory. Just breathtaking. Of course I forgot my camera and I always forget to use my cellphone camera.

    I bet East Texas is amazing at this time of year. Lucky you to have been there to enjoy it! —Pam

  5. Not so into the Azaleas myself (trashed two of them) but I am into the dry sunshine that it looks like you were enjoying!!! Send some my way, please!

    We’ve had lots of sunshine, both hot and chilly lately. Today was chilly. But when we get another 80-degree day, probably this weekend, I’ll send it to Portland for you. —Pam

  6. Les says:

    I did not expect to see these here, either in Austin or on your blog, but lovely just the same. Ours are about 3 weeks away.

    I know you’ll have wonderful photos of them then, Les. —Pam

  7. Darla says:

    Surely you want to tuck a miniature azalae somewhere, lol.

    Nope, not even tempted to do that, Darla. :-) I’m an admirer from afar. —Pam

  8. Greggo says:

    Didn’t know they existed there.

    There are quite a few people who try to grow them, some successfully, all over town, Greggo. —Pam

  9. S. Fox says:

    Wow, that is a surprise! Azaleas with limestone is an interesting sight and they do look great. I love seeing Azaleas on my visits to family in Houston, but don’t mind leaving them there. Azaleas really won’t work in my San Antonio garden either and there are so many other plants to grow.

    That’s how I feel too, S. Fox. Pretty to look at, but there are other plants I prefer to grow. —Pam

  10. Azaleas remind me of the years we spent in South Carolina, and you’re right, Pam- those fluffy flowers look beautiful at Zilker Park. I don’t want to grow them either – it’s the other classic Southern stuff at Zilker like Magnolias & Banana shrubs & camellias & pomegranates that make me swoon. And it sure would be nice to have that stonework, too!

    Someone once told me (was it you?) that when the azalea beds were made the original soil was removed and replaced with a more suitable, acid-soil mix. Sort of like a big container.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    That does sound familiar, Annie. Maybe that’s how it was done. Lucky you that you can grow the pomegranates you love without so much effort. —Pam

  11. Ian Hall says:

    Thanks Pam for all your diligent photography! I find myself sharing your stuff more than anyone else just for that reason. Just back from Landpark in Sacramento Ca. and the Azaleas there are in magnificent display!

    Thanks, Ian. I’m glad you enjoy the pics. —Pam

  12. Chookie says:

    Makes me feel all springlike too — they’re popular garden plants here, as we have the acidic soil and higher rainfall. As it’s autumn here, local gardens are full of mauve Easter Daisies and purple Tibouchina/Lasiandra.

    Sounds lovely, Chookie. Happy autumn! —Pam

  13. Michael by the bridge says:

    Oops – wrong email address. Got the right one now. Just asking about your camera. Thanks.

    Hi, Michael. My camera info can be found in the right-hand sidebar under “Digging Deeper.” —Pam