For some reason I have never been a huge azalea fan, but the azaleas around Rockridge this year changed my mind. I just kept walking and driving by these bushes absolutely bursting with color, and I couldn’t resist any longer. Unfortunately, my (former) distaste meant I waited a little too long to start photographing the blooms, so I missed my change to capture a few of my favorites (there is an amazing orange-pink one a few doors down from me that has since lost its blooms). I did manage to catch a few though. The orange and white at the bottom are some of my favorites.
I learned more about azaleas (such as the fact that all azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas, similar to the fact that all daffodils are narcissus, but not all narssisus are daffodils) from the Azalea Society of America. They have a great FAQ section. Some azaleas are native to Japan, and azaleas, similar to cherry blossoms, are quite celebrated in Japan. There are some great photographs of an azalea festival in Shiofune-Kannon (Ome, Tokyo) on Yumi’s flicker page.
On a related note, you should definitely look at this slideshow from the NY Times on Philadelphia gardens. Great pictures of alliums, primroses, poppies, peonies, and of course…azaleas!