Kew created its first Azalea Garden in 1882, on the site of a former American Garden.
Did you know?
- As early as 1850, there were over 500 different named Ghent hybrids.
- The first selections of Mollis Hybrids were made by Louis van Houtte of Belgium, working with plants grown from seed collected in Japan in 1861.
- Plant collector Ernest Wilson introduced 51 azaleas from Japan to America in the early 20th century. After seeing in Kurume the 250 century-old named azaleas from which he made his selection, he wrote: “I gasped with astonishment when I realised that garden-lovers of America and Europe knew virtually nothing of this wealth of beauty.”
History and design
It was transformed to its current layout in 1995. Designed to show the development of deciduous Azalea hybrids, 29 beds in two concentric circles now exhibit specimens produced from the 1820s to the present day. The selected plants are good examples of hardy azaleas that can be used in large and small gardens. The Azalea Garden is best visited in late springtime, when the bushes are ablaze with colour.
The 12 hybrid groups start with the Ghent Hybrids, which were created by a Belgian baker in the 1820s from a series of crosses between azaleas from eastern North America. Next up are the Mollis Hybrids, derived from Rhododendron japonicum and other Asian species. Later specimens include the Knap Hill Hybrids, designed to improve the Ghent Hybrids, and double-flowered Rustica Flore Pleno Hybrids introduced in around 1890.
Can you find out what secret weapon Belgian baker P. Mortier might have used to help bring on late-flowering species so they could be crossed with early flowering ones?
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- english garden
- for kids
- english heritage
- around the world
- for friends
- gifts that help
- the UK
- ground breaking
- at risk
- brand new
- for plant lovers
- special interest
- high up
- Kew at home
- garden plants
We invite photographers to capture the sights at Kew and Wakehurst. These images are a selection of images submitted by photographers from around the world. We hope you enjoy them. You can see more on Flickr.