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Rhododendrons and Azaleas of Washington State

Updated on October 3, 2013
Azalea
Azalea | Source
Rhododendron
Rhododendron | Source
Most yards in Western Washington have abundant color
Most yards in Western Washington have abundant color | Source
Dazzling colors
Dazzling colors | Source
So many varieties to choose from
So many varieties to choose from | Source
They can be quite large
They can be quite large | Source
A beautiful yellow azalea
A beautiful yellow azalea | Source

I am surrounded by vibrant colors. It is late May in Olympia, Washington, and the rhododendrons and azaleas have been in full-bloom for several weeks. Shortly the colors will be but a memory and we will wait eleven months for them to return. Such is the nature of these beautiful shrubs, a short visit to tantalize our senses and then gone as quickly as a jilted lover.

Some of my earliest memories are of road trips with my parents to the Olympic Peninsula to dig up wild rhododendrons and azaleas to plant in our own yard. They are and always have been a part of the backdrop of my life, often taken for granted and yet faithfully returning each year to add brightness and happiness to those of us lucky enough to live in this magnificent area.

I truly was not even aware of their uniqueness until a friend of mine from India, Vidya by name, mentioned that she did not know what an azalea was. For whatever reason I just assumed that everyone knew what they were; again, taken for granted. It seems it would be similar to having a beautiful movie actress as your mother; the beauty that arouses so many adoring fans just seems common nature to the children who see her every day.

For those of you not familiar with these species allow me to give you a short history.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT RHODODENDRONS AND AZALEAS

The rhododendron was “discovered” by Charles l’Ecluse, a Flemish botanist, in the 16th Century. It was then introduced to Britain in 1656 from the European Alps and the name, roughly translated, means Alpine Rose.

American native plants were introduced to England in the 1730’s; chief among these were the Canescens, Nudiflorum, Viscosum and Maximum.

Azaleas are a sub-category of Rhodendrons. The major difference being that Rhodies are evergreen and Azaleas are deciduous. Rhodies can grow quite tall, upwards of eighty feet, while Azaleas rarely grow larger than eight feet in height.

There are, of course, other differences between the two but I will leave that to the botanists and very serious gardeners of the world.

You might also be interested to know that the Rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal and the state flower of Sikkim in India. As for locally the Rhododendron is the floral emblem of Washington State.

ENOUGH TALK FOR NOW

I could go on but seriously, wouldn’t it be better to just gaze on the beauty rather than hear about it?

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy! I had almost forgotten about this hub and I appreciate your kind words. They are all done flowering now so we are left with a memory for the next ten months.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Billy,

      I loved your description of the beautiful Rhododendrons and Azaleas..."Such is the nature of these beautiful shrubs, a short visit to tantalize our senses and then gone as quickly as a jilted lover." Ha! You certainly have a way with words! Liked learning about the history of these plants and enjoyed your pretty photos. Voted up and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Au fait; the colors are gone now until next year but they are spectacular while they are with us.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Beautiful photos of flowers in my favorite colors! Love them all.

      Voted you up, beautiful, and awesome!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shimmering, how is it I managed to not know you were from India? I had no idea....duh! Well, thank you for stopping by from around the world! Azaleas and rhodies are probably our most common shrub here in Washington.

    • shimmering Dawn profile image

      shimmering Dawn 5 years ago

      Gorgeous... I had read you hub in the morning... but had to run away on some errand..Azaleas are rare here in India where I live... and so are the rhodes... but I haven't seen them flourishing they way they are in your backyard... Great hub. Have a blessed day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ocean! It really is a lovely state that we live in and I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures.

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      oceansider 5 years ago

      Thanks for the information on all of these flowers and the very beautiful photos of them...I enjoyed reading your hub.

      Well done!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Snowdrops! I appreciate you following me. Have a great day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marcy! You are right about lilacs of course; I love walking by them and smelling the wonderful fragrance.

      Have a great holiday my dear friend.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      You really have the amazing flowers..the amazing places.. I love your hub, the flowers are such a beauty.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Beautiful pictures! And, as always, an informative hub! I often wish we had just a tad more cold weather here so we could have lilacs. Few things are as heady and scintillating as the fragrance of lilacs in the spring.

      Great hub, Dear Billy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Any place called "The Sanctuary" have to be cool. Have a great time Cyndi!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      I just had to come back and say, "Enjoy your weekend, take time to smell the flowers" - me? I'm at my mother-in-law's house about to take a looong walk through a place called the Sanctuary. I've got my camera...maybe I'll find a few late-blooming rhododendrons to share. :D

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Amy! Thanks for taking the time on a Sunday to visit my site. I really appreciate that. Bev and I are landscaping the back yard this summer and we are having a blast doing it. We are not overdoing it but rather taking our time and making it a labor of love rather than just labor. Love to dig in the dirt and watch things grow as my vision takes shape. It really is therapy.

      I truly do appreciate you! :)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Your hub makes me miss my yard in rural Missouri, where I spent every waking free moment cultivating the landscape. All my stress disappeared, as I spent hours creating something beautiful to look at. Nature is therapy without the expense. I have found that time spent outside fosters imagination, appreciation and joy. Thank you, billybuc, for a healthy trip into the magic and beauty of nature.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, Ahhhh indeed! It is a beautiful time of year and I love it. Thank you Sis and have a great Memorial Day weekend. Rest up for the final push to summer vacation and a new chapter in your life.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Azaleas and rhododendrons are among my favorites. I love this time of year when they bloom. Ahhhh....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, it was a hurry up hub. I wanted to get #150 done and I knew I wouldn't be writing this weekend. I looked out the window and saw the rhodies in full color and I thought "why not?"

      Glad you liked it; watch out for that tickle bone.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Grandma, I hope the video helps. For some reason I have never had trouble with rhodies but it certainly isn't because I know what I'm doing...pure luck.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Well, this is a new twist for you, my friend! What a talented writer you are!

      We have azaleas in Florida also. In fact, I have several dwarf azaleas (growing 2 - 3 ft tall, max) in my front yard, nestled beneath a fence covered with star jasmine, filtered by a mammoth oak tree. Azaleas love the acidity of oak. So do hibiscus plants. As the video explains, simply "fluffing" off the spent flowers will promote new growth. No real need to prune, unless you want to clear a pathway. Azaleas are best used as backdrop to a descending plantscape. Meaning, growing lower height plants in front of them.

      Azaleas are beautiful. Here in Florida they grow in the Spring and early Summer, so we can enjoy their beauty for several months.

      Very nice hub, Bill. You captured the attention of my green thumb! You just seem to know how to tickle all the spots, huh?!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      I have a wild azalea that grows along our woodland driveway. Because it is so long in between bloom times, I tend to forget how beautiful they are. Thanks for the video. I have a rhodie that isn't doing very well right now. This should help me find a good solution to nursing it back to health. Voted Up, interesting and beautiful!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Tom; in truth I didn't know it either until I went to write this hub.

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      Rhodies and azaleas are so beautiful in bloom. I didn't realize, though, that azaleas are a sub-species of our state flower. Interesting hub and great pictures!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ishwaryaa, thank you and I'm glad you found beauty in the pictures.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      As do I, Lamb!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      A well-written hub filled with pretty photos! I am fond of flowers and these flowers looked very lovely. I have heard of these flowers but I don't think they are available in abundance in my country except you mentioned Sikkim. U enlightened my knowledge with regard to these unique flowers.

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      It seems this year that they are particularly vibrant. Love them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yvonne, you are very welcome. I would think the climate where you live is very much like ours and these are perfectly suited for a temperate climate. Best of luck in your shopping journey and thank you for stopping by.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      I’m off to buy some of these soon, as they come gardener recommended for our shady garden so this is very useful to see. I love all the pinks against green, so I know what to buy. A timely hub for me, thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ava! We need more beauty in the world, don't you think? Of course you do because you are a beautiful person. Sending you hugs and happiness.

    • profile image

      onlooker 5 years ago

      Wonderful hub and beautiful pictures Bill, thank you. We have azaleas at my Dad's garden too. My parents love colors and flowers just yesterday they added 10 more pots to there 30 odd pots. YUP! Loved the beautiful pictures.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, it is always lovely to hear from you. Thank you once again and best wishes on the new home. May peace and happiness be your companion.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

      Nice to be here again. I'm spending time outside painting the house, and there's countless other things to do in our garden. I enjoy the bright days and nights now. The sun hardly sets before it rises again. I tend to spend more time writing when it's dark outside. That's why you don't see me here very much now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shara, that was beautifully stated. Thank you for your words and your visit.

    • shara63 profile image

      Farhat 5 years ago from Delhi

      Nature smiles in these beautiful flowers,

      this way upon Us His blessings shower!

      voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Made! Nice to see you again. I hope your dream house is coming along nicely.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

      Beautiful flowers! I'm glad you can enjoy these colors now. It's a very enjoyable hub. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Tammy! If I had been thinking I would have written it two weeks ago when everything was in full-bloom.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Gorgeous photos! I love these flowers. I am surprised they look so full after all the rain you get in your state. This was a treat to read. Well done!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, there must be some vibrant colors in Florida although I've never been there to witness them. Thank you and you are very welcome.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Steph, you really are hurting for color where you are...well, it's just that there isn't as much to choose from over there. Thank you as always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, I love spring too. Now it's time for some gardening in the sunshine. Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      We some really beautiful Rhododendron when we lived in Virginia. Your photos bring back the memories of them vividly. Enjoy the beauty of those flowers for us.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I really love Rhodies and Azaleas! Now that we live on the drier side of the Cascades, we don't see them as much. I am always amazed when we head back to Western WA or OR and see all the lush green yards and vibrant flowers. Beautiful hub! Thanks for the smile - Best, Steph

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Its cloudy here in Oklahoma also today. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and fantastically written hub as always. I love spring! Take care, Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL you are very welcome Natasha! They are so plentiful here that we are born knowing what they are. You can't walk thirty feet without seeing one here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much Audrey! Greatly appreciated!

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      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      So that's what a rhododendron looks like! I've always heard the name and seen the flowers, but never put two and two together. Thanks!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      I love both of these flowers--and congratulations!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, Bev would be in heaven with the lilacs you have...that's on our list of things to grow soon. Love the fragrance. Thanks for the comment; the lighting wasn't good for taking pictures this morning but a couple of them turned out good.

      Have a great weekend my friend and keep checking the mail; you never know when those long stems will show up.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...Pretty pretty prettty......I LOVE flowers of all kinds....wild, annuals, periannuals, bush blossoms, LILAC TREES!!! We have 4 scattered here and there....2 of them just outside a window which is great for allowing the beautiful lilac fragrance into the house!!

      We have a huge Rhododendrun bush aside our back deck.....your pictures are stunning!! The colors are so clear and vibrant! Good job......Flowers make the perfect Universally welcomed gift!! So...send my 3 dozen long stem asap!!! Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vinaya; greatly appreciated.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Rhododendron is national flower in Nepal. They are found in various colors.

      Thanks for sharing your flower story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, Keith, thank you! These are flowers I tend to forget about because they are everywhere and so easy to overlook. Glad you enjoyed them.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mike! I don't know enough about the subject to bore anyone. :) I just know I was looking out the window and the beauty of the shrubs told me it was time to do a hub on them. Thank you my friend and have a great weekend.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      @ Daisy: it's cloudy here in New Jersey as well!

      I have to thank you, bill, for showing nature's beauty once again! This is definitely a great hub to write for #150. Great job!

      -KD

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      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      Nice job Bill, I always loved flowers, and gazing at them in awe.

      This hub is smooth and doesn't bore me as much as reading from a manual on the subject, and so you've scored here with me on the subject of flower gardens and an overview of certain terminology or should I say names for many differing breeds of flowers.

      Cool stuff & voted up for beautiful for sure! Oh and 200 hubs is right around the corner for us both, see you there bro. Congrats!!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Gypsy! I was looking out the window this morning thinking of how lovely they were and it dawned on me to share them with all of you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Debbie! Another hubber suggested this hub and I wanted to get 150 out of the way. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and pictures.

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      debbie brooks 5 years ago

      Billy congratulaions on 150you hubs...i love azaleas ..my grand mother grew them all the time...great hub...blessings......debbie

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and beautiful. The pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub. Your azaleas and rhododendrons make everything look so lovely just like when it's lilac time here in Riga. Passing this on.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Daisy, what a role reversal; we are having one of our rare sunny days. You are very welcome and thank you for stopping by.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Bill,

      It's a grey, cloudy day in Southern California. Thanks for brightening things up with your photographs.