1 On the way to Asticou Azalea Garden, we spotted this amazing sight - a bald eagle. Haliaeetus leucocephalus is a bird of prey found in North America, specifically near large bodies of open water. The bald eagle is both the national bird and the national animal of the United States.
2 Asticou Azalea Garden was built for quiet enjoyment, and intended for relaxation and contemplation. For more information, visit the web site. http://gardenpreserve.org/index.html
3 It's no surprise why -- look at its calm and serene ponds. The tall leaning tree is an example of cloud pruning, or niwaki, where certain limbs are removed to create a unique form. Niwaki is the Japanese word for 'garden trees' and used often to describe "sculpting trees".
4 The collection of rhododendron at the garden contains some very old specimens. Some of them were transplanted to the garden after being removed from the Bar Harbor estate of acclaimed landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand in 1956.
5 Azaleas have shallow roots, and require well-drained, acidic soil in order to do well. In poorly drained areas, azaleas should be planted in raised beds. Mulch around the azaleas to conserve water, maintain soil temperature and discourage weeds.
6 Azaleas are generally free of pests and diseases, but can be affected by lace bugs, and spider mites. Petal blight, leaf spots and root rot are also common for these deciduous shrubs.
7 Rhododendron 'mucronatum' is a slow growing evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub with upright branches and hairy oval leaves. These azaleas prefer medium sun to shade and well-drained humus-rich, acidic soil.
8 Rhododendron schlippenbachii, 'Royal Azalea', is a species native to the Korean Peninsula and regions of Manchuria. This is a dense deciduous shrub with white to pink flowers and often, small red spots on the upper three petals.
9 The 'Royal azalea' has fragrant, pink blooms in spring. It grows well in temperate climates with adequate rain and prefers full sun.
10 Quaint stone steps allow visitors to cross the stream.
11 These are the stone steps from the other side of the stream.
12 This is an ancient lantern tucked away among the many plantings.
13 Magnolia stellata, 'Waterlily', sometimes called the star magnolia is a slow growing shrub native to Japan. It bears large showy white or pink, slightly fragrant flowers in early spring.
14 Benches are strategically placed throughout the garden, so visitors may sit and reflect. Notice the perfectly raked sand in front of the bench - the pattern resembles that of a parquet floor.
15 This "sand garden" built along the eastern edge of the stream, uses rocks and raked sand to suggest islands surrounded by flowing water. The sandy area is offered to visitors as places for quiet contemplation.
16 Gardens of raked sand and stone are referred to as karesansui, which means dry landscape, gardens in Japan.
17 The "sand garden" was inspired in size to the celebrated garden of Ryoan-ji in Kyoto, dating from about 1480. Ryoan-ji is a Zen temple in Japan. The garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of karensansui, or dry landscape.
18 The Japanese inspired "sand garden" is carefully maintained, and meticulously raked several times a day.
19 This is another ancient lantern tucked away from visitors.
20 Azaleas can grow for many years and they continue to grow their entire lives. They are hardy plants, but some growing guidelines to keep in mind include: avoid overwintering in areas that can reach below 10 or below 20-degrees Fahrenheit.
21 Young azaleas may need extra phosphorous to encourage good root development. For mature plants, fertilizers that are high in nitrogen will promote green leafy growth.
22 Azaleas have five to six stamens in their flowers. Evergreen azaleas range in color from purple to red and deciduous azalea flowers range in color from white to pink to yellow to red.
23 One of the garden's main attractions is its balance of natural and man made beauty. The combination of natural vegetation, stones and water, along with the plantings create a wonderful blend of the east and west.
24 Azaleas are members of the genus Rhododendron with two distinct varieties: evergreen and deciduous. Evergreen varieties, which stay green year round, are Rhododendron Tsutsusi and the deciduous are Rhododendron Pentanthera. In total, there are 16 native varieties and 50-hybrids.
25 Rhododendron kaempferi, also known as the "Torch Azalea', produces nice open form branched shrub that are semi-evergreen. It does well in well-drained acidic soil that is amended with a lot of organic manner.
26 Azaleas can make wonderful indoor plants as well. They need at least four hours per day of direct sunlight, so place pots in sunny windows. And, if kept indoors, fertilize every two weeks after bloom.
27 Fothergilla gardenii is a moisture loving, acid soil requiring compact shrub. It displays showy white and green flowers in mid-spring. This does well in full sun to full shade. It's tolerant of wet sites but not of dry conditions partially because of its shallow root systems.
28 Fothergilla gardenii has apetalous flowers, meaning it has no petals. The showy white blooms are filaments that grow to about one-inch long. They are used for mass plantings and seasonal interest.
29 The genus name of this plant, Fothergill, honors John Fothergill, a Quaker physician from England who introduced and promoted a lot of plants to the UK that were native to the US.
31 One of the oldest specimens at the garden is this weeping hemlock, Tsuga condenses 'Sargentii', just north of the main bridge. It is a beautiful conifer with soft green needles attached to weeping branches that reach to the ground.
32 Azaleas can grow beautifully alone, or planted together in groups. They are affectionately known as the "royalty of the garden" for their brightly colored flowers and beautiful form and foliage.
33 Rhododendron vaseyi, also known as 'Pinkshell azalea' bears trusses of four to eight broadly funnel-shaped, unscented clear pink flowers. The blooms tend to appear before the shiny, dark leaves appear. They grow best in moist, fertile, humus-rich acidic soil.
34 Rhododendron kiusianum, or 'Kyushu azalea', has a color range from rosy to salmon to purple or even white. The majority of specimens are violet-lavender, funnel-shaped blooms. It likes bright shade to full sun either all morning or most of the afternoon. It does well in moist and well-drained soil.
35 Here is a beautiful and serene view of the pond during a light fog. Rhododendrons and azaleas are planted throughout the entire garden and mix well with other specimen plantings.
36 Korean Stewartia is a specimen quality tree that is native to Japan and Korea. It is a slow-growing all season tree with the most interesting, exfoliating bark.