Azaleas abound Lowcountry bathed in pink and purple

Visitors touring the grounds of Middleton Place got a colorful view of Rice Mill Pond with azaleas in full bloom.

Vibrant azalea blooms are creating colorful spectacles in some favorite Lowcountry environments.

Azaleas, arguably the area’s most popular ornamental shrubs, are flowering well in places where residents and visitors pause to appreciate Mother Nature’s gifts.

Popular spots include gardens, such as Middleton Place on S.C. Highway 61; Azalea Park in Summerville; and Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner. They also include Charles Towne Landing, West Ashley; Hampton Park, on the peninsula; and Magnolia Plantation on S.C. 61.

At Middleton Place, azalea blooms are more abundant than they have been in three or four years, thanks to a relatively mild winter, said spokesman Warren Cobb.

Many of the shrubs there are up to 10 feet tall.

“We should have four to six weeks of azaleas blooming out here,” Cobb said. Visitors begin seeing blooms as soon as they pass through the gates, he said.

“The absolute best place (to see them) is the Hillside of Azaleas,” Cobb said. “It has been planted with azaleas for many decades, and it’s really looking sharp. In the coming weeks, more will blossom along the reflecting pool and the secret gardens are fully planted and outlined in azaleas.”

Azaleas are believed to have been planted at Middleton as early as the 1840s, Cobb said.

In downtown Summerville, the wish this year as always is for the azaleas to look great during the annual Flowertown Festival in Azalea Park, April 5-7, said Tina Zimmerman, tourism coordinator for the town. The festival is organized by the Summerville YMCA.

“We were very worried that they wouldn’t do well for our festival,” Zimmerman said. “They are looking great right now. I feel like we are still going to have good blooms for the festival.”

The color of azaleas in the park is Summerville pink, Zimmerman said. They stand about 6 feet tall and are about 6 feet wide.

Many azaleas also are found along the Walking Trail of Homes and Gardens in Summerville, she said. Free maps of the trail are available at the Visitor Center at 402 N. Main St.

At Cypress Gardens, in Moncks Corner, azaleas are thriving, said garden curator Kathy Woolsey.

“We thought they had stopped coming out, but they keep coming,” Woolsey said. “It’s like the cooler weather slowed them down, so there will be a longer bloom this year. We had blooms early March, but the plants are still looking good.”

The azaleas at Cypress Gardens are concentrated around the lake, Woolsey said. Those who take a boat ride there will see them. Some of the azaleas are more than 50 years old and have grown to be 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Most azaleas at Cypress Gardens are pink, Woolsey said. The others are lavender, purple, red and white. The white ones are late bloomers and just about to open.

Woolsey thinks many blooms still will be apparent during the first week in April.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.