I saw so many azaleas when I was living in New York that their absence in Southern Europe went unnoticed for a while. But not long. Whereas there they grow to become huge bushes of colour, here you’re lucky if they manage to survive the winter and, if they do, they stay small and slouched.

Did you know that there are over 10,000 varieties of azaleas? And in China, it’s called the “thinking of home” plant. Also, receiving a bouquet of azaleas (or rhododendrons, their close cousins) was considered equal to a death threat, due to the high level of toxins contained in their flowers, leaves and nectar.

I have some photos of the azaleas in New York somewhere – I’ll try and fish them out next time I dive into my external hard drive. For now, these little ones from an Italian garden will have to do.


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