DECIDUOUS AZALEAS–ALL THAT AND SCENT TOO

Pink deciduous azalea at back step

For weeks I’ve been photographing the deciduous azaleas – to my mind the Bollywood princesses of our gardens; impossibly beautiful and graceful. Most of them have finished flowering now, but the one behind the house is in its prime, and was photographed today. Their flowers develop as a claw-like grouping at the tip of stems and most of them are sweetly scented – sometimes very powerfully so, making them of the most intoxicating flowers I know. Their colours range from near white through soft yellows, salmons and pinks to clear yellows and various saturated pinks and oranges through to copper. Unlike the evergreen azaleas (ours are mostly Indica and Kurume hybrids), they all seem to have some yellow in their make-up.

Detail = deciduous azalea behind house

Realising that I didn’t have a close-up of the above azalea, I went out now to photograph it in the dark by flash. The result was a cool mauve-pink and I started manipulating the image. This really is not the true colour, which I would describe as light rose pink. But what is interesting is the amount of yellow brought out by manipulating the colour in an attempt at getting it right. It would seem that the yellow pigments are right there even when we don’t see them. Perhaps I must get a shot tomorrow to add in here!

Next morning: it IS much less pink, much more peach on close inspection!

Pink deciduous azalea next day

Several days later: I have at last edited my photos of the deciduous azaleas, and will try to add them in a somewhat orderly way – not easy as they were taken over weeks with two cameras!

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This to my mind is a classic pure yellow and rightly or wrongly I think of it as the type. A close-up follows (no excuses…) and then a selection of the paler colours.

dy1

py

py3

py4

p

p2

pp2

dp

dp3

As they get darker they more and more, in photographs, give the impression of being over-saturated in post-production. The camera doesn’t quite capture the translucent quality of the cells, giving the impression instead of a grainy texture, and in the process often not capturing the amazing gradient from light to rich of the complex colour combinations.

dp6

These colour gradients are illustrated even in this relatively pale flower, where the buds are a rich pink and the yellow markings have a saffron intensity. But ye aint seen nothin yet…

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mix2

mix3

rich sat

Up in the arboretum a number of them are planted close to dark-leaved prunuses and copper beeches. I’m pleased with these pics, better than any attempts in previous years…

Mollis and Copper Beech

And now – drum role – if these were Bollywood princesses, here is their queen!

copper on copper

copper on copper detail

But let us end on a gentler note – the greens in the bud suffusing the soft yellows of this plant.

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