31 July 2008

Good Community Citizens


Honor Heights Park in Muskogee OK is in full bloom right now partly because of a donation of 550-Encore Azaleas from Greenleaf Nursery, Inc. in Tahlequah.

Muskogee Parks and Recreation Direction, Mark Wilkerson, said that the donated plants were put in three locations. Two beds are near the main parking lot and the other bed is near the 48th Street entrance.

“The uniqueness of these plants adds a lot to the park especially since they bloom at the same time the Crapemyrtles are flowering,” Wilkerson said. “This is a significant gift to Muskogee. We are putting signs at each of the plantings to acknowledge Encore Azaleas and Greenleaf Nursery.”

The Encore Azalea website lists Honor Heights Park as a place to see “Encores in Action”. (http://www.encoreazalea.com/encore/stat_gardens.cfm)

Plant breeder, Robert E Lee of Independence LA invented the Encore Azalea by crossing spring-blooming azaleas with Rhododendron oldhamii, a summer-blooming azalea from Taiwan. The result is an azalea that blooms spring, summer and fall.

Larry Ahrens, Sales Vice President,
Greenleaf Nursery, Inc., said, “We are happy to help enhance the beauty of the park. Since Encore hybrids and crosses are new, and still being worked on, we will be able to use the planting at Honor Heights Park as a benchmark to see how they are blooming in 2, 5 and 10 years.”

There are 23-Encore varieties and each one begins blooming in the spring. New shoots and buds begin to grow after that first bloom and the “second act” of blooms opens in mid-summer and goes into the fall.

The flower-color-key to identifying the 11-varieties donated to the park is: Carnation – medium pink blooms; Debutante – large light pink flowers; Autums Embers – deep orange red flowers; Empress – medium pink flowers; Autum Rouge - upright growth and deep red-pink blooms; Autumn Royalty - large, rich purple blooms, voted Azalea of the Year by the American Rhododendron Society; Sangria has one of the largest blooms in the Encore Azalea collection, dark pink flowers and dense growth; Autumn Starlite – white with Pink fleck flowers; Autumn Sunset – vivid orange-red flowers; Autumn Sweetheart – light pink with lavender dots; and Autumn Twist – white and purple striped blooms.

Jim Thompson, Vice President for Advertising and Marketing at Greenleaf Nurseries, Inc., is a former parks director himself and understands the importance of beautiful parks.

“We know that the weather has been hard on Honor Heights Park,” said Thompson. “The ice and unusual freezing weather took its toll. We wanted to help bring the park back to the shape it was in before these natural disasters hit.”

When the Main Street horticulture improvements were made earlier this year, Greenleaf offered to help with plants, too.

Thompson said, “Greenleaf Nursery got its start near the present location of Lowe’s on Shawnee Bypass. Even though that was 65-years ago the founders still feel that they are connected to Muskogee.”


TIP OF THE TROWEL TO GREENLEAF NURSERY INC.
How to care for Encore Azaleas
Site Selection: Plant where they will receive 6-hours of full morning sun to all day filtered-shade. Prevent exposure to drought or heat stress from intense afternoon sun.

Prepare the planting area: Dig a hole 6 to 8-inches deep and fill with water. If there is still water standing in 12-hours choose another location or improve the drainage. Get a soil test and amend soil to pH of between 5.5 and 6.5.

Planting: Dig, loosen and amend the soil at least 1.5 to 2-feet out from the center of the planting hole. Add compost or peat to soil. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen the roots. Then plant the root ball slightly above soil level in the center of the prepared area. Water to settle the soil and cover with mulch to conserve moisture.

Ongoing care: The first year, keep the soil moist until winter. In subsequent years, water your azaleas when the soil is really dry. Fertilize until August with Azalea food according to the package directions. Over-fertilizing and under-watering cause brown leaves.

Fall and Winter care: Azalea roots grow over the winter so do not allow them to go dry. Cover the area with extra mulch if the winter is extremely cold.

Pruning: Light pruning to remove dead or broken branches is all that is needed. For shaping, cut after the spring bloom cycle ends.

1 comment:

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