Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trip Report: Muskogee Azalea Festival

My wife and I spent another weekend on the road.  This time we started by driving to the Azalea Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma, which is about a 2 and a half hour drive from home.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this festival.  I had heard that the ice storm from December 2007 had damaged many of the older, well-established Azaleas and that they had been replaced by younger plants, which would not be mature for several more years.  I also wasn't sure what to expect in terms of Azalea-density.  I was thinking we would just drive around town and see 2 or 3 Azalea bushes in every yard.  I had heard that we should go to Honor Heights Park, but didn't really know any more than that.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Honor Heights Park, Muskogee Azalea Festival Honor Heights Park, Muskogee Azalea Festival[/caption]

Boy, were we surprised!  Honor Heights Park is a really beautiful space with a concentrated display of Azaleas.  There are also some really nice water features, including a wandering waterfall that comes down the hillside and pools a couple of times before eventually draining into the huge ponds of the park.  There are giant geese paddleboats that you can ride around the pond, if you are so inclined.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Waterfall in Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, OK Top half of the waterfall in Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, OK[/caption]

The park was crowded with locals and visitors alike, all enjoying the nice Spring weather and the beautiful scenery.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Christie with white Azaleas Christie with white Azaleas[/caption]

I was impressed with the number and diversity of Azaleas on display at the park.  I'm pretty sure I had seen all of the color varieties before, but the red variety was my favorite, a less common color for Azaleas.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Pale purple Azaleas Pale purple Azaleas[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]I had never seen an orange Azalea before I had never seen an orange Azalea before.  The pinks and whites are so popular.[/caption]

Our weekend ended up being the "Weekend of Festivals."  We were also in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for the "Red Fern Festival" and in Siloam Springs, Arkansas for the "Dogwood Festival."  The latter two festivals are simply named after native plants that are in their most spectacular form during this time of year, but the festivals don't actually have anything to do with the plants, like the Azalea Festival.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Christie beneath the Japanese Maple at the waterfalls edge Christie beneath the Japanese Maple at the waterfall's edge[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Classic Pink Azalea Classic Pink Azalea[/caption]

Most of the Azaleas had the classic blossom like the pink Azalea pictured above.  Others had really long stamens and small petals, like the two pictures below.  They look wispy and remind me of the "Black Bat Plant."

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Orange Azaleas Orange Azaleas[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Pink Azaleas Pink Azaleas[/caption]

We could tell that many of the Azaleas were youngsters that were just installed in the last couple of years.  They park will be even more breathtaking in 4 or 5 years, when they have had time to mature into larger bushes.  We had a great time and plan to visit again in the future!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Myself and Christie in front of our favorite red Azalea Myself and Christie in front of our favorite red Azalea[/caption]

3 comments:

  1. I remember the park so well, as we made the trip up to see the azaleas frequently. The orange variety is something I do not remember. In fact, it seems they were always in various colors of pink and white years ago. I believe the red is a variety in the last few years also.
    Your photos are gorgeous!

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  2. You must be fested out by now. The red are quite impressive. We don't have any local festival based on a particular plant, as is obviously popular around you. Rochester, NY does have a Lilac Festival each year worth visiting though.

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  3. What a nice picture of you two in front of the wonderful azalea! The azaleas are all so beautiful. One of the orange ones may be a Florida Flame azalea, but there are many varieties. I have the flame ones here and they are so fragrant.

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