The azaleas are starting to bloom, always a special time of year. I have only two types Asian evergreen azaleas, Encore 'Amethyst' and a late-blooming shell pink and white azalea from my husband's grandmother's garden. The rest are natives.
Encore 'Amethyst' is supposed to be the most cold-hardy of the Encores, a group of azaleas not known for their cold-hardiness. 'Amethyst' has survived temps down to zero with little damage and no snow cover, so I have been pleasantly surprised by its performance.
Piedmont azalea is a tall, suckering native azalea with fragrant pink or white flowers. Or at least it's supposed to sucker, although they have not yet. The buds are almost as beautiful as the flowers. The evergreen azaleas definitely pack a wow factor, but I love the grace of the flowers of the native azaleas and softer colors even more. Many species are sweetly fragrant, much like Dianthus, cotton candy with a hint of clove.