|Rhododendron subgenus tsutsuji-- evergreen Azaleas|
|Komuroyama Koen (Komuro Mountain Park)|
Ever since my in-laws built a house down on the Izu Peninsula, we've gone every year for Golden Week to see the Azaleas at Komuroyama Park (near Ito City).
We can actually walk to the Azalea park from the house by walking through the Camellia park...
|Tsubaki... Camellias have over 3,000 cultivars...|
It's the loveliest walk...
though I prefer walking there with my mother-in-law since we both like to amble
and stop to admire Every. Single. Camellia along the way...
|Camellia japonica... but which cultivar?|
Ah, well-- the camellias were nearly done anyway, and we had come to see the azaleas...
....glowing rows of azaleas line the street...
...bushes crowded with shocking pink blooms,
Climbing the stone steps to the top of the bottom slope of Komuro Mountain, the view is beautiful...
...then positively spectacular. Most of the plants are the small-flowered variety (and mainly pink, though the hillside--shown in the top photo--mixes in deep red, salmon pink, and white).
The large-flowering variety (the evergreen azalea Tsutsuji), of which we have a border behind our building, wasn't quite out yet at Komuroyama. Just a few, not the whole hillside. From the side (as at right), it's easy to see that Azaleas are actually Rhododendrons. A subgenus, in fact, though they used to be thought a completely different genus.
|Rhododendron subgenus tsutsuji|
|These are the kind that smell good-- that's where you'd be, if you were a bee... I wonder if the spot pattern is like runway lights for bees, guiding them in?|
|some are pruned to shape, some left to grow naturally|
|Deep red azaleas beneath graceful willows...|
|A riot of Azaleas...|
|...framed by somber pines|
|A whole hillside of Azaleas|
Some of the bushes are tall enough to walk under. Well, tall enough if you are a small Japanese woman. Or a child--I thought those tall azalea bushes looked like the most wonderful place to play house. I would certainly have taken my dolls and stuffed animals and crayons and notebooks and spent hours playing under bushes like that when I was a kid.
...but, of course, I hadn't any toys along and so had to be content to stand under the tall pink azaleas and suggest to Cici what a marvelous play-place they would be...