CATEGORY: Itawamba County
ACRES AND ACRES OF AZALEAS
By Eileen Bailey
FULTON – Pink as bubble gum. White as snow. Red as a fire engine. And gold as the sun.
Those are just a few of the colors that drape Ruth and Irwin Moore’s Itawamba County yard. For the last 18 years, the Moores have been covering the seven acres in front of their home just southeast of Peppertown with azaleas.
Ruth Moore said planting azaleas began as a way to add color to the yard. That quest bloomed into hundreds of azaleas in a variety of colors.
“We didn’t plan all of this,” Moore said. “We started it to add a little color.”
Because there are so many plants, Moore said she should could not remember all the varieties she has. But there are some pink ruffles, pink pearls and George Lindley Tabors, which are her favorite. These delicate beauties are a light pink with dark pink centers.
There are several types of azaleas in the Moore’s yard, including several older varieties that look similar to honeysuckle. Moore said while she likes the George Lindley Tabors the most, the white azaleas add a nice compliment to the other brightly colored azaleas and the white of blooming dogwoods.
The peak blooming season, which is now ending, lasts about three weeks, she said. Once the azaleas bloom, Moore and her husband spend several days fertilizing. This fertilizing helps the plants to grow more and bloom better the next year, she said.
“Azaleas need a lot of attention,” Moore said.
There are two types of azaleas – evergreen and deciduous. The evergreen types – usually found in florists’ shops – are hybrids of species from China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Deciduous azaleas are more widespread in nature and can be found in southern Europe, Japan and China; one species is native to the west coast of North America; and, more than half come from the eastern United States and Canada.
Azaleas prefer good light but protection from strong direct sun and forceful, drying winds. Moore said during the summer she constantly waters her plants to make sure they receive the nourishment they need. Azaleas need soil that is well-drained, moisture-retentive, acidic and rich in organic matter. The Moores’ yard is gently sloping.
Because of their beauty, the Moores’ azaleas do get a lot of attention during their short blooming span. Churches and other groups in Northeast Mississippi make trips to see the Moores’ azaleas in bloom. This year numerous groups visited. She said because they don’t keep a registry, she is not sure how many have seen the azaleas this year.
“We enjoy people coming to see the azaleas and visiting with us,” she said.
Also scattered throughout the seven acres of azaleas are rhododendrons and camellias. There are three acres behind the Moores’ home covered in ferns and hostas, which are a form of annual lily.