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Darrell Blackwelder: Have you happened upon this unique flowering shrub?

Special to the Salisbury Post by Darrell Blackwelder

Along rural the areas of Rowan County and the shores of High Rock Lake you may stumble across a very unique flowering shrub in bloom. Native azaleas are in full bloom across this region. There a few examples of this native flowering shrub at Hurley Park in Salisbury, at the east end of the park.

The shrubs themselves are somewhat inconspicuous during the fall and the summer, but when spring arrives this unassuming native is aglow with beautiful, delicate flowers resembling a colorful honeysuckle bloom. The native azalea is in the rhododendron family (Rhododendron periclymenoides/nudiflorum) and can vary in flower color of white, pink or yellow. The flowers emerge early in April a few weeks before its foliage appears.

This colorful native grows best in lightly shaded, wooded areas on well drained soils. The plants must have consistent moisture after planting, but are generally drought hardy after establishment. Newly developed cultivars of deciduous azaleas can be purchased at local garden centers with colors ranging from deep yellow to pink.

Be sure to keep an open eye for this plant as it will be fading soon.

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