wild azalea in the woods

5.26.21 ~ Sheep Farm, Groton, Connecticut

I had never heard of wild azaleas before. But on Wednesday, after not seeing each other for fifteen months, my good friend Janet and I took a walk in the woods where she spotted some huge blossoms, way in the distance and up in the trees. What a good eye she has!

all leafed out for the summer

Life is getting a little more back to normal… It was my first day out without Tim. Janet and I had a nice lunch out and then I got a chance to show her one of the walks Tim and I had discovered while in quarantine, at Sheep Farm. It was a lovely, sunny, breezy, late spring day.

part of Samuel Edgecomb’s grist mill’s water control foundation, c. 1750

I couldn’t get a good picture of the first blossoms Janet saw, too far away, but then, down by the little waterfall she noticed another bunch of them, much closer. We crossed the brook on a narrow little footbridge to get even closer and then I got some pictures!

little waterfall without much water
(I fear we’re on our way to another drought)

Wild azalea is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 15 feet tall. It likes moist soil near the edges of streams and swamps, but is also drought tolerant, attracting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. They are native to North America.

part of the grist mill dam?

Enjoy the photos!

wild azalea
there is a Wild Azalea Trail at Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana
aka honeysuckle azalea

Tell of ancient architects finishing their works on the tops of columns as perfectly as on the lower and more visible parts! Nature has from the first expanded the minute blossoms of the forest only toward the heavens, above men’s heads and unobserved by them. We see only the flowers that are under our feet in the meadows.
~ Henry David Thoreau

aka mountain azalea
aka sweet azalea
aka hoary azalea

After admiring the blossoms ‘above our heads’ we appreciated the more common flowers ‘under our feet’ on our hike back to the car.

wild geranium

It’s been a while since I’ve made note of our local coronavirus statistics. We have had 2,776 detected cases in our town. Connecticut has had 346,980 confirmed cases and 8,227 deaths. On May 26th we had 88 new cases. So it’s not over yet, even though we are feeling a sense of relief from being fully vaccinated. Overall, 1,855,397 people or 52% of Connecticut’s population has been fully vaccinated.

joe-pye weed?

Our governor held his last COVID-19 briefing. I started thinking of them as “fireside chats” every Monday and Thursday afternoon, and found his discussions about the numbers and his executive orders and the reasons behind them very wise and reassuring. In March more than 70% of Connecticut’s residents approved of Gov. Ned Lamont’s handling of the crisis. That includes us!

28 thoughts on “wild azalea in the woods”

  1. A beautiful walk …. and wild azaleas are new to me, too. Cheers to you having a pro-active governor. In my opinion, mine also did well, but the legislature fought him. Crazy! Loudest cheers saved for having time with your friend!

    1. Thank you, Frank! My daughter lives in North Carolina with a similar situation between the governor and the legislature. Thinking about those wild azaleas makes me wonder what else I might be missing!

  2. So fun to watch all the flowers we don’t see in Norway. Wild azaleas are like a wonder! enjoying all thew sorts of them, and so good to hear about old friends meeting up again and enjoying hikes together

    1. Wild azaleas are indeed a marvelous wonder! It seems like every time I take a walk I see or learn something new to me. 🙂 But the best part of the hike was sharing it with a dear friend.

  3. It was a great joy to be together and again do such mundane things as share a meal and take a walk!

    My first thought regarding the unidentified plant with the red leaves on top is, Joe Pye Weed? I have some in my flower beds, although none are as red as in your picture. I’ll look again to compare foliage and stem (if possible). We might need to start using inaturalist or some plant ID app similar to your birding apps.

    1. It was so good to see you again, my friend, and to appreciate the simple pleasures life offers us!

      Thanks for the tentative Joe-Pye Weed id. Did a little research and since it blooms mid to late summer it might be fun to go back then and see what kind of flowers come out. There are several species of it! One of my books says common joe-pye weed’s leaves have a single main vein and the other species’ leaves have three main veins. Not sure what to make of the veins on this plant’s leaves…

  4. Thanks for sharing the pics of your wild azaleas. I don’t think we have them here, but am willing to be surprised. Glad you had a nice walk with Janet. And that you have had a proactive governor. We like ours, too, although many people have not approved of her around our neck of the woods. Sigh.

    1. You’re welcome, Kathy. I hope some day you will be pleasantly surprised by an encounter with a wild azalea. 🙂 Do you have streams and swamps in your woods? I feel for your governor, who is very unfairly criticized. I’ve seen her interviewed on news programs many times. She’s very brave.

      1. She is so brave, I agree! And, yes, we have many streams and swamps in our woods. I am always amazed how many different kinds of woods there are—no two places are alike.

        1. It’s so true, each forest has its own personality and different groups of trees and kinds of wildlife that like to live there. I never worried about encountering a bear in the woods when I was a child!

  5. A lovely place to walk. You are fortunate to have access to such a place. I didn’t know that there were wild azaleas but it makes sense. We have one wild geranium in our flower bed. It volunteered itself years ago so we keep it.

    1. Lucky you to have a wild geranium take up residence in your garden! I love them, so simple and pretty. I do feel lucky living in this area with so many acres in town devoted to open space and many volunteers interested in maintaining the trails.

  6. I love the wild azaleas better than the hybrids, much more fragrant, too. Around our hills, we have Swamp Pinks (Rhododendron viscosum). Deliciously fragrant, honey scented, sticky blooms.

    1. I looked up rhododendron viscosum to see what it looked like — very pretty. The aroma must be amazing. I wish the blossoms we found were hanging low enough for me to get a hint of their scent. 🙂

  7. This reminds me of honeysuckle! What gorgeous blooms — no wonder you were thrilled to see them up close! And thanks, Barbara, for the statistics on the coronavirus. Our county regularly has positive cases cropping up, too, despite available vaccines. I hear a lot of folks (some in the medical field, go figure) refuse to take the shots for one reason or another. I’m fully vaccinated, and it feels refreshingly freeing!!

    1. That must be why some people call these honeysuckle azaleas! I wonder if they might smell like them, too. 🙂 I’m with you, I find it totally incomprehensible why anyone wouldn’t want the vaccine. There is so much misinformation floating around out there, online and person-to-person. I’m still wearing my mask in stores, an added layer of safety-net, I suppose, and wisely, some stores are still requiring them. Now I wonder when we will need booster shots!

      1. I heard that the first-responders — those folks who got their vaccines first — will probably need them by September. I guess the rest of us will follow that schedule. Just hope the booster doesn’t hit as hard as the second shot!

        1. Hmmm… I guess that means I might need a booster by December… I know what you mean about the potential side effects — my armpit (lymph nodes I think), as well as the injection site, was very painful for several days…

  8. These mountain azaleas are gorgeous. I think I’ve called them mountain laurel before – I wonder if they’re much different from each other? Is it me, or is the green even greener this year…the blooms even more lush? I think all of life is brighter as we head toward the light out of the pandemic. Please, please may more people get vaccinated so the “sick or dead” numbers become lower to near nothing. Here in the Boston area, we’re getting deluged with rain for the Memorial Day weekend, so hopefully thoughts of drought will be driven away.

    1. Mountain laurels are a completely different plant and the blossoms are shaped differently, but, the coloring is identical to these wild azaleas so they could be easily confused. We got almost two inches of rain yesterday and nothing but rain is predicted for all day today so hopefully that will end the dry trend here. We’ll have to wait and put down mulch during the coming week, looks like no Memorial Day gardening this year. 😉 Last year we skipped mulching because we didn’t want to risk human contact going to the nursery. But our dwarf river birch in the garden does look greener than ever. 💙

  9. How wonderful to meet up with your friend after 15 months and enjoy this beautiful walk. Love your azalea close-ups, so pretty! Other sightings and landscapes nicely captured too. I’d love to have that big rock in your first photo in my yard!

    1. Thank you, Donna! If I wasn’t so worried about ticks I’d walk through the meadow to get closer to that big boulder/glacial erratic. It’s quite a distance away from the cleared path and I used the zoom lens to get the picture. It grabs my attention every time I visit.

  10. I did not know there were wild azaleas – how pretty they are. I always admire the non-wild variety in the neighborhood and remember my father saying they took a lot of effort to grow, when pressed by my mom to put some to be a showpiece in the front garden. So we never had them. What a nice walk you had Barbara. I looked for wildflowers at Humbug Marsh as I was hoping to see some beach roses … something which they spoke about in the article, but came away empty handed as to images. I did see a Killdeer and if your ears were ringing yesterday morning, it was because I said out loud while taking 30 pictures (naturally) “wait until I tell Barbara that a Killdeer was up close, (not as close as yours), but close enough to hear its unusual song and trail after it as he walked a mile a minute away from me.” 🙂

    1. Azaleas and rhododendrons are so very pretty and I love seeing all the different kinds of them people have in their gardens. They require acidic soil so if you don’t have naturally acidic soil it would be very difficult to grow them. It always fascinates me how different plants need different conditions to thrive, kind of like people. 😉 I used to try to plant flowers and bushes that didn’t need constant attention. So happy you had a killdeer encounter! 🙂 They are definitley strange little characters!

      1. Yes, plants have their issues and to get them to be at their peak beauty, you have to jump through some hoops first. When I first began gardening I had tea roses … no one told me they needed extra TLC and bloom took forever to go from bud to bloom, then poof you had nothing. I pulled them all out and planted shrub roses – easier to maintain and beauty all Summer. I did try climbing roses with no success. I had the umbrella trellis, three rose plants (“Stairway to Heaven”) but spent a lot of time and a small fortune keeping them free of black spot, so I pulled them out and got “Twist and Shout” Hydrangeas – they bloom according to the acidity of your soil. So mine bloom pink, but they can bloom blue too. Yes, that Killdeer and that squeaky voice … I’ll be excited to see the photos – hopefully this weekend, or next. I have three venues of photos to look at. You know how that is.

        1. When I used to garden it was kind of like that, if a plant was too fussy I’d give it away and try another plant that liked the soil just the way it was. Now I only buy one annual a year, a geranium which I keep in a pot on the balcony. Out front in the garden we have a tree and some bushes and bulbs. It’s more than enough at this stage in our lives. Just add mulch in the spring.

          1. I agree with you Barbara. A fellow blogger is a little younger than me but has a beautiful garden in her backyard and often has pictures of butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds in her blog. I had a garden and butterfly garden then lost 75% of my plants from the back-to-back Polar Vortex events. I’ve been reluctant to plant anything else due to the erratic weather, plus no time in the morning since I began walking. I think about whether to have a perennial garden again once I’ve retired, but I’m ore inclined to do like you or continue what I do now and use silk flowers. I bought new silk flowers in hanging baskets and a container last year. They look very real and are a lot less work. The mulch is a lot of work … last year I added 36 bags as it had not been replenished in two years.

          2. It’s more fun to take pictures of other gardens than to keep tending to my own. 😉 It’s not that I’m lazy… We had skipped the mulch last year during the pandemic so the garden really needed it this spring. But our garden is tiny so 6 bags was enough! Your silk flowers don’t fade in the sunlight? I’ve never heard of using them outdoors before.

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