Sunday, April 28, 2013

Azaleas at Callaway Gardens

In January 2013 we visited Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  I wrote two posts on that visit and explained the history of the gardens.  Click here to read Mid-week at Callaway Gardens and here for A Thursday at Callaway Gardens.  At that time we found out that the gardens have more than 20,000 native and cultivated azalea plants - 700 varieties.  We planned to come back in April when the azaleas are in bloom.  The day after visiting Wild Animal Safari, Tuesday 9 April, we returned to Callaway Gardens.  As soon as we entered the gardens azaleas were welcoming us along the Scenic Drive.

We drove to the Overlook Gardens and walked up and down the paths of the Azalea Trail.  Some of the azalea bushes were much taller than me - and what a great array of colors, from white, pale pink, mauve, yellow, coral, deep ping to reds.  I had taken two cameras (my Nikon and Lumix) and kept stopping to take photos.  I took 340 photos that day but I had to cut them way down for this post.  (Click on collage twice to embiggen.)

We arrived at the gardens early and there were very few visitors.  It was so peaceful, beautiful and quiet - just the song of the birds and buzzing of insects.

We walked down toward one of the lakes.

When we went back up the trail, I was pleased to find a bench surrounded by pink azaleas.

Our pink azalea shrub at home is very similar to the shrubs around the bench above but I do not know which variety it is.  Azaleas are members of the Ericaceae family (which includes blueberries and mountain laurel.)  All azaleas are rhododendrons - they are both in the genus Rhododendron even though, usually the term "rhododendron" is used for the plants with large, evergreen foliage and the term "azalea" for plants with thinner and smaller leaves.  The Southeastern U.S. has native azaleas that can be found growing along creeks and forests.  There are 17 species native to North America at least.  Plant size can vary from 3 feet to more than 20 feet, and in a variety of colors.

After seeing so many beautiful azalea bushes I can understand why the azalea is Georgia's official state wild flower - the state flower is the Cherokee Rose.

Below the Overlook Gardens was a little creek.

A path along the creek brought us to a wooden bridge and a small bed of bright tulips.

Then we walked back across the bridge and up the path to our car.

As we were driving away we saw some vivid red tulips close to a split rail fence, so we stopped to take a look.

We drove along another lake to reach our next stop, the Azalea Bowl.  It was the beginning of April and trees were showing lovely spring colors.

Yellow azalea bushes could be seen along the road.

The gardens contain many of these yellow azalea plants.  They are the "Florida Azalea" (R. austrinum) and have a sweet lemony-honeysuckle type fragrance.

Before arriving to the Azalea Bowl we passed a Lady Banks Rose shrub covered with a myriad of tiny yellow roses.

The entrance looked quite pretty too with more tulips and pansies.

A Japanese style pavilion was at the entrance of the park.  Tulips, pansies and other flowers were planted in borders in front of the azalea bushes.  There were wind chimes hanging from the four corners of the roof and gently swaying in the wind creating soft melodious sounds.

Inside the cool shade of the pavilion were information panels on the Callaway Brothers who funded this azalea garden and a map of the garden.  Planters around the pavilion were covered with pretty flowers.  It was so restful to sit on a bench listening to the chimes while looking at the luxurious colors of all the flowers surrounding us.

The Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl was funded with a donation of $3 million by Ely Callaway, Jr., and opened in 1999.  It was named in honor of brothers Ely Reeves Callaway and Fuller Earle Callaway, his ancestors.  It covers 40 acres and contains more than 3,400 hybrid azaleas and an additional 2000 other blooming shrubs and plants.  In addition to the Japanese pavilion, it also includes a gazebo, a stream, a lake with an arched bridge and numerous walking paths.  We took the path toward the lake while stopping often to admire azalea bushes and other plants.

Along the paths were informative panels about azaleas and their culture.

Then we arrived at a terrace overlooking the lake and the rainbow display of all the azaleas around us.

The lake in front of us, covered in part with pollen, and the mass of exploding azaleas around it were magical - just a dream apparition.

We walked along the lake to the arched bridge.

We crossed the bridge.  A turtle was going up a trunk; another one was swimming near a snake.

We stayed in the wonderful Azalea Bowl garden for a long time - stopping by azalea bushes, walking around blooming trees, and just being dazzled by all this beauty.

Eventually we left and drove toward Callaway Gardens exit.  But, we did stop when we passed some pretty lakes.


The last lake we saw had azalea bushes reflecting in the greenish water - just like watercolor paintings.  I am keeping all this breathtaking beauty, the explosive as well as soft colors, in my mind's eye but also on this post so I can revisit them often.


44 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

I love azaleas -- this glorious!!!!

Molly said...

What a feast for the eyes! Gorgeous gardens!

gigihawaii said...

Wow! You certainly took a lot of pictures, and they are all lovely.

Karin B (Do Overs in Denver) said...

These photos are so magical, Vagabonde! Thank you so much for sharing them with us all.

Hugs from Denver,
Karin

Nadege said...

Stunning photos! I probably could spend days in this gorgeous park.

Elephant's Child said...

Such stunning gardens and a glorious post. I do admire to collages you so cleverly create.
Azaleas are something I love, but do not grow well. Sadly.
Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through these gardens with you.

Thérèse said...

Cet endroit est un véritable paradis!
Il ne manque plus qu'un grand potager pour s'y installer et oublier le reste du monde! :-)

possum said...

Wow, I really want to go there... but I know that is impossible, so thanks for the next best thing!
Absolutely beautiful.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

This place in the Spring is so very BEAUTIFUL! A true feast for the eyes and the soul. I can see how one could sit there for days and days. It looks so very peaceful and lush.
Great post, my dear.

troutbirder said...

Oh my. What wonderful stunning scenes. I've never seen anything even close to this... And how I wish I could grow them here. We have a few varieites that are winter hardy but not many and the soil is not acidic enough here as well. So I dream on.....

DJan said...

Just beautiful! The rhododendron is the state flower of Washington, and they are in bloom everywhere right now. Thank you for the wonderful trip. I do love that reflection picture, too. It's breathtaking. Hope you are doing well! :-)

Things and Thoughts said...

Amazing images from a wonderful part of the world ! I'm really impressed !

Frances said...

Vagabonde, what splendid photographs you've shared with us! What a magical place you've visited!

The abundance and variety of the azaleas is almost overwhelming. I am sure that walking along that azalea trail must have been breath taking.

From these photos, I also get the impression that there were no other folks out and about enjoying all this beauty (other than those turtles!) It's so different from what I encounter on my "nature" walks around Central Park. xo

rosaria williams said...

What a gorgeous place! Your photos really sing out, Vagabonde. You have an eye for beauty, and your narrations add just the right explanation. How lucky we are to know you and your talents.

Linda said...

Wow!!! What a beautiful place!!! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos. Bonjour de Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Perpetua said...

What truly glorious blooms! Vagabonde, this post is a portrait of a quite exceptionally beautiful place and I'm so glad you shared it with us. I've never seen anything remotely approaching this in real life. You're so fortunate to live where you can visit it in person.

Retired English Teacher said...

Someday I am going to see azaleas in bloom. It must be amazing. Your photos are spectacular.

Please forgive me for not responding to your email. I have been having some major health issues again. I have not blogged, nor have I kept up with correspondence. I hope to get back in the groove soon. Take care.

David said...

Vagabonde, First it was the Wildlife Park...and now these luscious gardens. My wife viewed your blog and we have a new Georgia trip priority for early next April! Great photos as usual! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Ginnie said...

Absolutely gorgeous but the snake would have made me nervous !

Pondside said...

Some of your photos have the quality of a painting. How beautiful it must have been there. The azaleas reflected in the water are truly lovely - it must have been a grand afternoon.

Nadezda said...

Wonderful post, Vagabonde!
I love both azaleas and rhododendrons.
The photos are awesome, especially this one of lake, bridge and azaleas.
I have some rhodies in my garden, they are hardy up to -36C and can grow and bloom in our climate. Now they are still with buds.
Thank you for sharing this BEAUTY with us!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Thank you for all of these beautiful pictures. I feel like I've gone home with all of the azaleas. We've tried to grow azaleas in the mountains, but the deer think they are appetizers and eat all of the leaves. How I miss azaleas and now you've taken care of that craving for me this morning.
Sam

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing such awesome photos of one of the most beautiful of the Southern gardens.

We really are fortunate here to have the azaleas in our area, they make Springtime so beautiful whether visiting a public garden or just driving through one's neighborhood - everyone grows azaleas! Our neighborhood is old and established so the shrubs are often gigantic and covered with blooms are every shade. Sadly, today I see the rain of the past couple of days have knocked the petals to the ground and their days are numbered - but rhodies to come soon and all the Summer blooming flowers. God is good to us, and with a little planting and a lot of love and hard work, we can make beautiful gardens just about anywhere.

Here's to Spring - enjoy each moment dear friend......'walking' with you at Callaway was an honor, would love to do it in person some day!

Hugs - Mary

stadtgarten said...

This is really beautiful!
Merci et bonne soiree, amicalement, Monika

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, so much beauty--it left me breathless. As you said, "magical - just a dream apparition." Walking in that fairyland must have truly been almost a transcendent experience. Thank you once again for sharing such loveliness with us.

I've been away from reading blogs for nearly three weeks because of a minor ailment. But I'm so glad to be back and to discover your gorgeous photographs and detailed descriptions. Thank you. Peace.

Jeanie said...

I am gasping because these are so beautiful. Spring has finally come to our part of the world, but we'll have a bit to go before the full burst. What a great time to be at the gardens! Oh, lucky you! I am confined to home for a bit, though I can get out privately (just don't have the energy) and am hoping I can get to the gardens while they still sing the loudest!

Vicki Lane said...

The reflections in the lake are amazing -- I'm wondering if I might try some azaleas down at our pond... they do well elsewhere on our place.

Arti said...

These photos are just amazing, like you were in paradise. Good to know your camera are the ones I have, a Nikon and a Lumix. Wonderful post! We were still having snow just two days ago. What a beautiful place you live in.

Arti said...

Hi Vagabonde,

Just came across another Azalea Trail on a different blog, and that's in Texas. You might like to check that out. Here's the link

catherinesherman said...

These photographs are stunning. What a beautiful place. I feel as if I'm there with you. Long ago I heard about Calloway Gardens, but hadn't realized that it is this gorgeous. I need to put this place on my "must see" list. Thanks for sharing!

Sofia said...

Soo beautiful photos!
They were not to few either ;-)
You must take time to watch them all. Nature is really amazing.Thank you for posting!

Ginnie said...

I will never forget the azaleas of my 25 years in Atlanta, Vagabonde. Never. But I had no clue you'd find Azalea Heaven there at Callaway Gardens. What a place! What I especially love is all the azaleas AND the tulips, connecting to me here in the Netherlands. This is very special to me. Thank you.

Down by the sea said...

An amazing collection of azaleas thank you for sharing this beautiful place.
Sarah x

claude said...

C'est un endroit magnifique, Vagabonde ! Tu as fait de très belles photos.
Il me rappelle une visite en Allemagne : Rodhodendronpark".
Bises

ladyjemini said...

Beautiful photos!

rhymeswithplague said...

Magnificent, isn't it? I knew if you returned to Callaway Gardens in April you were going to fall in love with it.

I am bookmarking this post that is so worth returning to again and again.

Ruth said...

Azaleas are elegant, and in this setting, they are incredibly so. I love how they flower in shade, so they are part of woodlands. Beautiful photographs!

Kay said...

Wow! I am totally amazed! Everything looks spectacular. Your photos make me want to go there. I've never seen anything quite like it except in Holland's Keukenhof gardens.

Fennie said...

Azaleas are one of my favourite plants, but I have never seen so many azaleas together as this. The soil must be quite acid. Is this why the little turtle has turned blue? Another beautiful blog.

Magic Love Crow said...

This place is amazing! Breathe taking! I didn't like the snake though! LOL! Take Care ;o)

livininlb said...

Beautiful.

Jenny Woolf said...

There is only one word for this place - "stunning". I wish I'd been there too!

LightExpectations said...

Oh, I'm so far away, but I've just put Callaway Gardens on my bucket list! Someday when I get to Georgia, I will visit! Thank you!

Snowbrush said...

How wonderful. I hope I get to go there again someday.

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