Right now our pink azalea has us spellbound with its mass of blossom. It's absolutely smothered, and was last year too. Previous years - OK, but not so much. And I put the change down to sequestered iron. This is the second year I've watered in sequestered iron in early March, and at this rate I'll make sure it gets it next March too.
If you're a bit hazy on what it does, sequestered iron is added to boost acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons which are susceptible to iron deficiency and which find it difficult to access in soil that isn't acid enough for them. Deficiency can manifest itself in yellow leaves, and poor growth and flowering. To be honest, I hadn't noticed either of the first two, but I now realise just how many flowers it can produce and I think I'd recommend it to anyone who wonders if their azalea could do better. I use Murphy's Sequestrene and water it in, but you can also get granules to sprinkle over the soil.
Needless to say, the azalea's name has been lost, if indeed we ever had it. It arrived years ago, a gift of a friend of my mother's who had come to stay. Having done some research, however, and remembering the sense of humour of said woman, I'm pretty confident that it's Azalea 'Willy'. Evergreen, 50-75 cms (around 20-30 ins) after 10 years (this must be at least two decades old, if it's a day), freckles sprinkled in the throat of the blooms and light autumn tints to the leaves. Almost certainly Willy. This being in a refined garden (hah!) I shall, in future, address it as William.
What is particularly satisfying, though, is that I now have a range of smaller Williams. When the TLC began last year, I scraped out the soil from the top of the pot to replace it with new compost, and found that several of the low-lying branches had, where they'd become partially buried (no doing of mine, I'm afraid), put out roots.
Gardeners' gold - free plants! I ended up with five. One died over winter, one has stubbornly sat there with a measly four leaves, only recently showing signs of growth after I threatened it with the bin. Three others are doing splendidly, including one that has already left home to adorn my father-in-law's garden.
You really can't get much more satisfying than that, can you?
And do let me know if you think it's not a Willy after all.