In The Yard for Friday, March 1, 2013

Native azaleas are coming into bloom, culminating in banks of blooms in the spring, says Allen Owings, horticulturist at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station.

Native azaleas need well-drained, acid soil. Plant in filtered sunlight with slightly more shade than sun.

“All native azaleas are deciduous and in the genus Rhododendron,” writes Gary R. Bachman, Mississippi State University horticulturist.

Call the Kisatchie National Forest office, (318) 793-9427, for a Wild Azalea Trail bloom report. The 31-mile trail south and west of Alexandria is open to hikers, mountain bike riders and overnight backpackers who may pitch tents wherever nightfall finds them, said Kisatchie’s Amy Robertson.

Dale Mathews of The Backpacker in Baton Rouge likes the Wild Azalea Trail for easy access and hiking but thinks it could just as easily be called The Dogwood Trail.

“There are more dogwoods than wild azaleas,” Mathews said in a 2003 Fun magazine story.

There are more than 400 miles of horse trails in Kisatchie, but the Wild Azalea Trail isn’t one of them.

Call (318) 473-7160 or go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/kisatchie/recreation for more information on Kisatchie.

Ed Cullen

Advocate staff writer