Today is the first day of the Blogging A to Z Challenge, and for 2016, I have decided to combine the A to Z Challenge with National Poetry Month.
So, every day, I will put up a post that has a poem in it. 🙂
When I went to Taiwan in the spring of 2015, I loved the flowers – gardens, parks, and sometimes shrubbery planted along the streets would be full of blooms. Cherry blossoms can be found in parks and the mountainous countryside. While azaleas can be found growing wild together with these cherry blossoms wherever they appear, they are also grown as shrubs in the cities, in the gardens of houses and parks as part of the landscaping. They are really beautiful in full bloom, where it is common to see shrubs entirely covered with bright pink or red blooms. I also liked the pure white blooms.
Yangmingshan National Park
The most memorable spring flower place where I saw lots of cherry blossoms and azaleas was at the Yangmingshan National Park of Taipei. The park can be reached via public bus Red5 from the Jiantian MRT station. That was the bus I got on.
The Yangmingshan Flower Festival is divided into three phases:
- The first stage happens between January and February, when the Formosan cherry blooms along the mountain trails of Yangmingshan Park.
- The second stage begins from the Chinese New Year till early March, when the Showa cherry and Japanese flowering cherry bloom. The peony and azalea are also two main attractions during the flower season.
- The third stage of the flower season is from mid till late April, during which the sage grass, Formosan cherry and calla lily take center stage.
The flowers bloom continuously throughout the January till April period.
To find out more about the cherry blossoms of Taiwan, you can read the article I wrote entitled ‘C is for Cherry Blossoms‘, which I wrote for the Blogging A to Z Challenge last year (2015).
What is the difference between an azalea and a rhododendron?
According to the Oxford Dictionary:
An azalea is a deciduous flowering shrub with clusters of brightly coloured, sometimes fragrant flowers. Azaleas are typically smaller than other rhododendrons and there are numerous cultivars.
All Azaleas are actually Rhododendrons, but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. Rhododendron is a genus (a group of plants with shared characteristics) and Azaleas are a group within that genus, rather than forming a genus of their own. They can be differentiated using these characteristics (Millais Nurseries, 2016):
- An Azalea has 5 stamens while other Rhododendrons have 10 or more
- Azaleas may be deciduous or evergreen and other Rhododendrons are all evergreen
- Azaleas are small to medium shrubs but other Rhododendrons range from prostrate shrubs to trees
However, they all require the same conditions to grow.
Blossoming in profusion
With the winds of spring
Khor Hui Min
1 April 2016