I have a theory about azaleas: they come prepared. We have had years when we thought we had lost all buds in a late frost, only to have an enthusiastic flush of blooms a few weeks later. And when those reserve buds aren’t needed, they surprise us with an autumn flush. We have had several textbook years of late, and each autumn a greater number of azaleas produce not just a few blooms in autumn, but a decent show. But even in a bad year what we call the semi-deciduous mauve azalea (not being good with azalea names at all) gives a decent autumn show. What is more, the soft mauves contrast magnificently with the yellow and russet shades of autumn, and we have planted several specifically to be seen with autumn shades – below with a maple which I suspect is Acer rubrum. To me it is the most important flower of late autumn, even if azaleas are famous for their spring show.