In Everything What’s Wrong of Raccoons for The Toast (blessed be its memory), Daniel Mallory Ortberg wrote that raccoons are “a dense badger lie.”
I feel the same way about azaleas. They are candy-colored lies.
“Azaleas are evergreen or deciduous shrubs beloved for their fantastically showy flowers, which form dense clusters of spring and summer color. Azalea flowers are beautiful enough that many gardeners cultivate them despite their high susceptibility to pests and diseases.” (Italics mine, we’ll get to why soon.)
“Dense clusters of spring and summer color” — the cheek! They are the very shrub of vexation! The only thing they’ve brought me are dense clusters of whitefly, Pealius azalea.
“AZALEA PROBLEMS,” in CAPS, is literally the header on a page that scrolls on and on at the website for The Azalea Society of America, that group of sado-masochists.
Why must we have azaleas? They are for difficulty fetishists. The are a pox. They are floral-ly unfaithful and an evergreen scraggle even at the best of times. They are a no, a should not. Why do they so Southernly and suburbanly and stubbornly persist despite my pruning? Let there be less! of them. And their sass.
Throw back your head and Ursula-the-sea-witch laugh at this, their soil needs, from Wikihow’s How To Care for Azaleas: “Azaleas grow well in organically enriched, acidic, well-drained soil. Your soil should have a pH level of 5.5 or to 6.0. It is important that the soil is well drained because these plants don’t do well in soggy soil. You should also avoid heavy clay when planting azaleas, as clay will choke the roots. If you live in a place without acidic soil, like in alkaline soil…you can build raised flower beds that are composed of a mixture of coarse sphagnum peat moss and finely milled bark.”
What the finely milled f*ck? Cancel this princess-and-the-pea situation!
The sphagnum moss must be coarse, but the bark must be the opposite, finely milled. What is this, a fairy tale?
Furthermore, “to keep the soil moist and acidic, add a mulch of pine needles, oak leaf mold, or aged hemlock, oak, or pine sawdust.” Not young hemlock. Aged hemlock. The azalea probably needs elf sh*t compost and I’m plumb out of that magic.
Fellow sufferer of the St. Vitus fits of azalea-itis is this anonymous poster to the DC Urban Moms forum, a dear-heart, kindred spirit who wrote, “We drove past our soon to be new house and saw that the entire front yard is various bushes of different colored azaleas. I hate them. Am I only an island here?”
No, anonymous mom, you, friend, (whom I don’t know yet but with whom I am sure we have much in common: azalea hatred, motherhood) are the mainland.
“A raccoon is the child of a cat and a wizard and it walks in too many worlds for it to be allowed to stay in this one,” Ortberg wrote, and he meant azaleas too I’m sure.