Many years ago, when the plant buying part of our gardening bug was at it’s height, we bought 7 azaleas in the sale at a local garden centre. It was before we moved here so must have been over 13 years ago.

We bought them, primarily because they were cheap, in fact if memory serves me they were £1 each. Admittedly they weren’t in the first flush of youth, you could tell that from the faded plant labels, but what had we to lose apart from £7?

We re-potted them, as they were severely pot bound, and brought them with us when we moved, and as you can see despite their age and long journey they were flowering their socks off.

After digging the new flower beds we planted some of the azaleas in the garden, thinking, amongst other things, how nice it would be for them to spread their roots at long last.

Sadly things didn’t quite work out and they all died. We had asked our then neighbour shortly after moving in what the soil was like. She had said it was ‘neutral’, which it isn’t, it’s chalky and the azaleas hated it, we should have tested it ourselves. Lesson learnt.

That left us with 3 still in pots, a red one, a pink one and a white one. These continued to flower beautifully each Spring, but because they only had a short flowering season I kept them in the area by the shed for the rest of the year.

The white one was a bit bigger than the other 2 and lived in a big pot near the hedge. I can’t quite remember when, why or how but at some point I gave up on it. The red and pink ones came out each year as normal, but I’m ashamed to say the white one was neglected.

After the last exceptionally cold winter everything looked grim including the 2 azaleas, so after they had flowered in Spring I decided to give them a severe hair cut, it was make or break time.

The red one seems to have responded favourably, the pink one doesn’t seem to have responded at all. The jury’s still out, but I won’t be holding my breath.

At the time I pruned them I did cast an eye towards the white one. It’s pot was over grown with thyme and Herb Robert in fact apart from some dead branches you wouldn’t have known it was anything but a pot of weeds and I made a mental note just to dump it on the compost heap when I had a moment.

That was 6 months ago and yesterday I finally got round to doing it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the white azalea was still alive. How could this be, I hadn’t watered it for years. Perhaps it had put it’s roots into the soil because the pot was broken, but no. Despite the broken pot it’s roots were still all together in a tight ball over-run with the thyme and Herb Robert.

It’s at times like this I get a bit fanciful, and I decided that a plant of such a great age that had endured such bad treatment, yet still refused to die, deserved a break, not to mention a huge amount of respect.

So I have re-potted it, pruned it gently and watered it well. I now intend to have this white azalea flowering it’s socks off again in Spring along with the red one and hopefully the pink one too. Watch this space.