Written by Margaret Baker, Development Intern
The Azalea, originally called Indica azalea, was first found in Japan when Asia was still the East Indies. Now azaleas not only pepper Asia and Europe, but they are also used in extraordinary quantity in the southeastern United States.
Azaleas prefer growing under the shade of trees with broken sunlight, and in dry soil making them a perfect selection for The Cummer Gardens. With at least 26 different species in the United States alone, the plant grows so large that it completely smothers itself with blooms come spring time; blossoms of red, white, pink, purple, and “salmon”. The word azalea is associated with temperance, passion and womanhood, which is also rather fitting for The Cummer.
Not only do Azaleas grow with their traditional style and colors, but botanists have also developed hybrid typed of Azaleas giving not only a different shape, but also color pattern to the flower. Most of what is seen growing naturally in states such as Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, etc. are the standard Azalea plants which take over fence lines and front yards with beautiful bursts of color among the deep green of their stems and leaves.