The brightest star in the colors at Augusta National and in most neighborhoods of the city this week is the blooming azalea.
Last year’s early spring left the azaleas bloomless during the 2012 Masters Tournament, but not this week. Although the area did have some warm days in March, a late cold snap slowed Augusta’s famous flowering shrubs.
“We hit it right this year,” said Suzanne Holmes, the horticulture program assistant at the Richmond County Extension Office.
It’s not only the azaleas in bloom right now – the dogwood, peach and cherry trees are full of blooms, as are the wisteria vines and spirea bushes. The redbud trees are just finishing, Holmes said, but you can still find daffodils flowering. By the end of the week, the Lady Bank roses should be in full bloom.
“I was driving down Walton Way earlier today, and it was just stunning,” Holmes said.
Augusta National Golf Club and many residents planted different varieties of azaleas that bloom early and late. The huge bushes full of stunning purple and the lighter pink-purple blooms are the Indica species, Holmes said.
Along with all that color are the different hues of green leaves and needles to be admired, Holmes said.
Some azaleas and other spring bloomers started budding in January this year, which led to worries the azalea show would be over before the Masters began.
The recent cool-down caused the plants to stop, however. Plants that reproduce by seed have an internal mechanism that tells them to go dormant until the weather warms again, Holmes said. That way, the seeds won’t be killed by the cold.