Plant of the Week: Japanese azalea

Plant of the Week: Japanese azalea

If you adore the exuberant, day-glo colours and handsome, glossy leaves of the rhododendron family, yet you haven't room for large shrubs in your garden – try Japanese azaleas.

They're every bit as colourful as their bigger cousins, but only grow to about a metre tall – perfect for smaller gardens and containers of ericaceous (lime-free) compost. The smaller, daintier flowers are quite charming: enjoy the ruffled white flowers of 'Niagara', blotched in green, or 'Irohayama', in pale lavender. The curious 'hose-in-hose' double flowers of 'Coral Bells' are pink, and scented too. Give them dappled shade and damp soil and they'll give you pleasure for years to come.

Tie in climbers

Twining climbers, including clematis and passionflowers, are growing fast now. Although they are generally self-supporting, by attaching themselves to wires or trelliswork, at the beginning of the season they benefit from a helping hand. Tie in any flopping shoots to set them in the right direction.

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