Azaleas would have to be one of the most colourful small Autumn to Spring flowering shrubs. They make ideal pot specimens growing on a shady patio or they can be taken inside for a short time. Azaleas come in a wide colour range, from white through to pink, red purple and multi-colours on the one flower.

History of Azaleas
Evergreen azaleas have been collected and planted around the world to for centuries for the gardening elite to the home gardener. Most all evergreen azaleas species and hybrids originate in Japan and were first described in 1681 in the first horticulture book written in Japan. In this book 317 varieties and 15 species were described. The Japanese put all evergreen azaleas into 2 groups, Tsutsuji and Satsuki. Most all evergreen azaleas seen in gardens today will have originated from one of these two groups. In general the Tsutsuji azaleas are all of the early flowering azaleas, flowering before or with their new leaves, and within 30 days of the spring equinox. The Satsuki, meaning “fifth month”, azaleas bloom about 1 month after the Tsutsuji azaleas. Over time these plants were introduced across China, then later to Europe. Most came to Europe in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, and because of the language difficulty, were assigned Western names. R. simsii was one of the first to be introduced into Europe, thus it figures into some of the early breeding that was being done at that time.
It is likely that most of the plants that were brought from Japan to Europe in the early 1800’s came from Japanese gardens.In the mid to late 1800’s, evergreen azaleas became popular as greenhouse and indoor plants. It was at that time the Belgian hybrids were developed, mostly from R. indicum and R. simsii, are the basis for a majority of modern hybrids today (Indicas)

Kurume Azaleas
The Kurume Hybrids, as they are known today, were created by the Japanese in the mid 1600’s and grown widely in their gardens. They were first seen in large numbers in European Gardens when, in the mid 1800’s, E.H. Wilson introduced 50 – The Wilson 50, of the over 250 cultivars grown by Mr. Kijiro Akashi of Kurume, Japan. The Kurume Hybrids have small leaves and flower so heavily, the leaves are invisible. These types can be sheared, and are the signature of most Japanese Gardens today.