The mid-May to early June period marks the azalea blooming season, which means about 3 weeks packed with tasks to maintain azaleas at peak health. Azaleas blooming early in the season will need to have the spent flowers (and any remaining ones) removed to prevent the development of seed pods, which sap energy away from foliar and vascular tissue development. At times, it’s disheartening to remove the gorgeous blooms but it needs to be done to keep the trees at their healthiest.
Those currently in or yet to flower can be used in the museum’s annual Satsuki Exhibit and need to be prepared for optimal display. The trees need to be pruned to best display the upcoming blooms and correct any minor structural flaws from the last growing season. The trunks need to be lightly scrubbed to remove algae growth and reveal the gorgeous smooth textures under the flaking bark. The soil must be weeded, and re-mossed to provide an excellent aesthetic surrounding the basal trunk flare. Finally, the pots must be cleaned and unglazed pots oiled to provide just the right luster. Every step is highly detailed.
After the trees were prepared, it was time to pair each tree with an excellent stand or wooden slab to nicely showcase each tree’s unique features.
I even contributed a little of my own unique work by creating a moss accent to complement an azalea in the exhibit. The moss rests upon a pumice base layer, which helps to retain water and provide aeration.
It was such a wonderful opportunity and experience to help assemble the 2018 Satsuki Azalea Exhibit! It was great working to prepare the azaleas and it allowed me to explore the display of bonsai in a more formal setting.