Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Foliage Friday: Gumpo Azalea

I know.  Usually azalea is a flower plant.  But I love this little Gumpo azalea for its foliage and its form.  It's neat and mounded, with tiny leaves, like a rounded, decorated boxwood.  Though it's slow-growing, it's tidy and dense.  This one is not quite as hardy as other varieties; perhaps only suitable for zone 7b and south.

Pink Gumpo Azalea, in August.

The Gumpo azaleas are part of the Satsuki group, first codified by the Japanese in 1692.  'Satsuki' means 'fifth month' and these azaleas bloom in the fifth month of the old lunar calendar, our equivalent of June.  They are available with white, pink and red flowers.  There's even a "Fancy" variety that is pink with a white margin.  Because they bloom later than the Southern Indicas, the flowers are somewhat hidden by the spring flush of foliage.  The color display isn't nearly as dramatic as the March extravaganza of the spring-blooming varieties.  Gumpo azaleas have a shy appearance, a little more standoffish. 

'Kinpo,' a Satsuki azalea.  Photo: Jim Trumbly

And here's one more reason I love Gumpo azaleas.  They aren't Encore™ azaleas.  I don't have anything against Encore™ azaleas.  But I miss the old varieties.  Houston is azalea country -- and those so-called "repeat bloomers" are crowding out my old favorites, like the Kurumes, the Pericats, the Glenn Dales, and the enormous number of Southern Indica hybrids.  Here's two more, just so we don't forget...

'Hinodegiri,' a Kurume azalea.  Photo: Joe Coleman

'Mary Margaret,' a Glenn Dale azalea.  Photo: Dan Krabill

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