Azaleas! Rocky!

As I’ve known for many decades, I can be a very dumb shit, and I proved that in the story I published on April 18. That opus is a recount of the walk I took in Jenkintown, a suburban town near Philadelphia, during which I gorged myself on springtime’s greenery and flowering trees and bushes. The middle of the piece contains the following sentences: But where the hell were the azaleas? I saw only three. Maybe somewhere in Jenkintown were a bunch of “Azalea Bushes Are Not Welcome In This Community” legal notices.

Yo, Neil, listen up! The three azaleas in flower that you saw were not the only azaleas in Jenkintown. There are undoubtedly plenty of azaleas in Jenkintown, but most of them had not blossomed yet. That’s because azaleas come in many varieties and do not necessarily bloom at the same time! The ones you saw, with purple flowers, were the only ones that had so far.

Yeah, I know that. But it had slipped my mind during my April stroll. Nobody ever has or ever will mistake me for a botany whiz kid.

Anyway, a couple of days after launching the story into cyberspace, I awoke from my azalean slumber, realizing the error of my ways. And since then I’ve had azaleas on my mind. Hey, why not? Azaleas, when in flower, are beautiful. And within the last two weeks I noticed that scads of them in the Philadelphia burbs, where I live, had opened their wings. The time had arrived for me to investigate the azalea situation in a pretty big way, something that, as far as I could remember, I never had done.

It was only a natural, therefore, that visiting Philadelphia’s Azalea Garden would strike me as the appropriate thing to do. I mean, come on, it’s called the Azalea Garden! And so, on the 1st of May, a cool and cloudy day, I boarded a train that transported me to the City Of Brotherly Love. But a few minutes before I climbed aboard, I snapped a photo in my neighborhood. The picture is of enormous and awe-inspiring azalea bushes that adorn the front lawn of my friend Joyce’s house. Regale your eyes:

Joyce’s azaleas.

I hadn’t been to the Azalea Garden in 15 or 20 years. I had no idea what condition it would be in or how many azaleas it nowadays contains, but I guessed that all would be well. And it was. The AG is a sweet, four-acre park near the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, a few blocks outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Philly. Azaleas were plentiful and in bloom. White, pink, red, yellow and orange azalea blossoms looked smashing amidst the park’s greenery. Especially the white ones, of which there were thousands. I’m sure I’ve never seen so many white azalea petals in my life. They alone were worth the trip.

I took my time in the park, covering all of its grounds. I said hello to the azaleas. I sat on a bench for a while and ate the sandwich I’d brought from home. And I took lots of photos.

And then nature called. Not one to ignore natural processes, up a hill I strode to the art museum, of which, luckily, I’m a member. That’s because members get in for free. Otherwise, for the pleasure of using the facilities I’d have had to pay the $18 museum admission fee required of seniors. I’m here to tell you that everything came out very artistically! Monet and Picasso would have been proud of me.

There’s not much more to this story. Well, I suppose I could drag it out for another 1,000 words, actually, but I’m not going to. Old f*ckers like me get tired easily, you know. But I will add one more non-azalea anecdote. You see, on the way back to the area where I would catch a bus to take me to the train station, I passed the Rocky statue. It’s a two-ton, bronze replica of Rocky Balboa, the cinematic boxer, and originally was featured in the Rocky III movie, which came out in 1982.

Amazingly, the statue has found success in real life. Sylvester Stallone, who portrayed Rocky, donated it to the city when filming for Rocky III was completed. It used to stand outside a Philadelphia sports stadium, but since 2006 has occupied a niche near the famous art museum steps that Rocky ran up in the movies.

There were lots of people around the statue the other day. Lots. Almost as many as I saw in the museum while heading to and from the can. I’d never known that the Rocky statue is an immense tourist attraction, one of the biggest in the city. Ditto for the Rocky steps. Hell, just about everybody loves a hard-working, decent guy, and that’s what Rocky personifies.

Nature lovers and boxing fans, that’s a wrap. Any day filled with blooming azaleas and with Rocky is a good day. I went home satisfied and content.

(Don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this story. Thanks.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

100 thoughts on “Azaleas! Rocky!

  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross May 9, 2019 / 12:13 am

    Haha – pretty funny that you forgot it was too early for azaleas. 🙂 It didn’t occur to me either and I’ve gown them before. I love your azalea finds though! Great photos. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. SandyL May 9, 2019 / 12:21 am

    Beautiful. I’ve never appreciated spring flowers as much as this spring. It’s either the neighborhood (it’s in a new town) or it’s that I’m walking outside more. Here I see wonderful azaleas too but the the showstoppers are the rhododendrons – big, brilliant and deep red. Lovely Spring!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:28 pm

      You know, I’m paying a lot of attention to spring this year too. More than I usually do, I think. Thanks for stopping by my humble site, Sandy. See ya.


  3. Audrey Driscoll May 9, 2019 / 1:04 am

    I don’t grow azaleas or rhododendrons, but lots of other people around here do, so I get to enjoy seeing them for free. I like the apricot, peach and yellow azaleas especially.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. twobrownfeet May 9, 2019 / 2:01 am

    Your pictures are are gorgeous. It’s often hard to get timing right in spring. 🙂 After cherry blossoms we had a riot of azaleas all around us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:31 pm

      Hi. I get the impression that it has been a good spring in many parts of the planet. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. MELewis May 9, 2019 / 2:09 am

    I wondered until you mentioned the steps what Rocky could possibly have to do with anything so delicate as azaleas. And also that there were no free public facilities for nature calls — almost like France!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:33 pm

      Hey there. I suppose I’d have had to go to a café several blocks away. Maybe they’d have let me use their restroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. joylennick May 9, 2019 / 4:39 am

    Hi Neil,

    What entertaining posts you do write! And great photographs. How could you not revel in Spring and nature, eh, especially with such an extravagant show of azaleas. Muchas gracias. Cheers. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:37 pm

      Hey there, Joy. Thanks for stopping by. Spring for sure is a prime time to go outside and enjoy things. See you!


  7. sniderjerry May 9, 2019 / 7:28 am

    “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.” Budda

    “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” Rocky

    Great essay, Neil. I sincerely enjoyed your adventure and I’m glad you made it to the can in time. Have a great day. Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

  8. joyce hamilton May 9, 2019 / 8:13 am

    Nice photos. I love azaleas . Friends hospital has the most azaleas in our area. We used to take my mother every year. At the end of the drive around the property they would give you a small azalea .

    Liked by 2 people

  9. greenpete58 May 9, 2019 / 8:14 am

    Philadelphia is a beautiful, exciting, and historic city, and it’s disconcerting to read that a statue of a movie character played by Sylvester Stallone placed outside an art museum (?) is such a huge tourist attraction. But…pop culture dominates everything today, and that’s my one-and-a-half cents!

    As to azaleas, they are beautiful shrubs, and I love your photos. We have hedges outside our front door, and they’re blooming bright purple right now. Azaleas are acid-loving, and when I was a landscaper, we used to pack leaves around the bases when we raked leaves in the fall. Supposedly, the decaying leaf matter provides acid to the azalea roots. These days, though, I’m too old and lazy to bother doing this!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:42 pm

      Pete, I just got inside after doing two hours of yard work. There’s about another 15 hours of work yet to do to get the property into halfway decent shape. I never can keep up with it. I’m too old and lazy too.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lexklein May 9, 2019 / 9:00 am

    I never have any idea when things bloom, so don’t beat yourself up so badly. The important thing is that we appreciate them whenever and wherever they appear! I love azaleas and their rhododendron relatives, and I’d love to have a dedicated garden in which to see them … wait, maybe there is one here. That’s another flower-related thing I don’t know!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:44 pm

      Hi Lexie. You know, I found out only days ago that azaleas and rhododendrons are related. Beautiful plants.


  11. Cindy Bruchman May 9, 2019 / 9:27 am

    Azalea explosions are breathtaking. So glad they revealed themselves to you. You had a pretty cold and wet winter, yes? They just needed more time…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:47 pm

      Hi. I hope the azaleas around here will stay in bloom for at least a couple more weeks. They’re great. Have an excellent weekend, Cindy. Be seeing you.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Helen Devries May 9, 2019 / 9:40 am

    You certainly made up for your earlier azalea blindness….what a super garden!
    Glad too that you avoided paying eighteen dollars to meet a call of nature…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. lievelee May 9, 2019 / 11:07 am

    Whilst you were looking for your azaleas ahead of time, I was hunting bluebells in the woods long after their heyday.. As you say, we can’t all be botanists!! Go with the flow. Best to enjoy the spectacle of spring as it unfolds.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 1:53 pm

      Hello there, Anabel. I don’t know why I hadn’t gone there in so many years. But I’m glad I went recently. Beautiful park.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Still the Lucky Few May 9, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    Here’s to Azaleas and Rocky! Two things that added to my day, although azaleas are higher on my list than Rocky could ever be. Nothing personal—it’s just that I love flowers more than boxers, or movie stars, for that matter. Loved your post, as I always do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 2:18 pm

      I guess I like azaleas more than Rocky. But I’m not sure. Rocky is modest and heroic. Anyway, many thanks for adding your thoughts, Diane. I’m always glad to hear from you.


  15. Robert Parker May 9, 2019 / 2:36 pm

    Happy Spring, Neil. Rocky looks different than I remembered him, and where’s Bullwinkle? That Azalea Garden looks great, those bushes are just loaded with blossoms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 3:14 pm

      Philadelphia needs a Bullwinkle statue! I’m going to get Philly’s mayor on the phone and tell him that you’re the person he needs to thank for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robert Parker May 9, 2019 / 3:18 pm

        It would be an “aesthetic enhancement” and a great place to hang hats.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. andrewcferguson May 9, 2019 / 3:37 pm

    The azaleas look great, Neil! Azaleas and rhoddies are harder to grow on the East Coast of Scotland than the West,where they’ve actually become something of a pest in parts of the Highlands (or one variety of rhoddie, at least). They’re one of my favourite flowers, though, so thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 5:17 pm

      There’s a couple of azaleas on my property. If I had even a halfway decent amount of interest in gardening, they’d be doing better than they are!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Paddy Tobin May 9, 2019 / 4:44 pm

    I wouldn’t cross the road to relieve myself on the Rocky statue but I’d love the garden and the museum. It’s been a week of azaleas and rhododendrons here also – a week visiting gardens in Wales. Home tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 5:18 pm

      Have fun in Wales. I’ve always wanted to go there. Maybe one day . . .


  18. cbraun354 May 9, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    I visited that same Rocky site years ago – while attending a land use planning conference. It wasn’t quite as colorful when I was there – amid pouring rain and a bit too slippery to run up those steps (not that I could anyway).
    Here in Minnesota, I am waiting for my azaleas to bloom. Of course, it would help if it would quit snowing.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. alhenry May 9, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    “Nobody ever has or ever will mistake me for a botany whiz kid.”

    I have a feeling you’re in good company here, Neil. Myself, I love the natural world, and even have a large, time-consuming garden, but I keep my categories simple: flower, tree, shrub, weed. So, you’r already way ahead with your azalea-identifying powers. Makes you wonder about all those 19th century writers who began every novel with five or so pages of detailed description about the flora in their main character’s life.

    Happy rambles.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. ParentingIsFunny May 9, 2019 / 5:51 pm

    I wouldn’t be able to identify azaleas if you put a gun to my head. Beautiful pictures, though.
    And good ol’ Rocky.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. JT Twissel May 9, 2019 / 5:52 pm

    I always think of pigeons in association with Rocky Balboa! Not azaleas. Glad you got your fix.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 8:11 pm

      I did, for sure. It’s a really nice park. And it’s near all kinds of interesting sights in the city.


  22. Alyson May 9, 2019 / 6:23 pm

    I love how gardens are continually changing as one plant is starting to die back until another year, another set of plants and shrubs are just starting to bloom but because of weather conditions, never at quite the same time.

    As for that statue, I would want to come and see it and have my photo taken with it. We have a massive affinity with what we watch on film and on telly and when visiting places always want to see locations in real life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 9, 2019 / 8:14 pm

      I did a bit of reading about the first Rocky film. It was shot on a shoestring budget. Nobody would have predicted the impact it would go on to have.


  23. Ann Coleman May 9, 2019 / 6:57 pm

    I love azaleas, and loved your photos of them! And don’t worry about forgetting they might not have been in flower yet. It reminds me of the time we were driving to a winery, through the forests in September. Our friend looked out the window at the still green trees and said, “Wow, I bet if we’d been here last week we would have seen the really pretty Autumn colors. Too bad we missed it!”

    Liked by 2 people

  24. selizabryangmailcom May 9, 2019 / 11:04 pm

    How can anything be that vibrantly colored naturally? It’s really amazing when you think about it. A shot of adrenaline for the eyeballs.

    And thank God you’re a member. I think for $18 I would have just had to go in the azaleas! 🙂

    Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?
    There’s flush toilets when you get down to the bottom!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 10, 2019 / 7:05 am

      Flush toilets in the Grand Canyon? In a million years I wouldn’t have guessed that.

      Enjoy the weekend. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Stuart Templeton May 10, 2019 / 5:28 am

    I can’t even spell azaallle… azel… az… … Sod it – Azalea! let alone know what one is when I see it. I do however know good photos when I see them and yours are great!

    Great post – I now feel the need to run up some steps listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on my MP3.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 10, 2019 / 7:09 am

      Hi Stuart. It’s a real tough word to spell — I agree.

      I hope you’re in real good shape if you’re going to run up steps. Be careful!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. George May 10, 2019 / 11:01 am

    I’m looking at the stunning azalea photos and trying not to picture what came out artistically.

    Incidentally, have you noticed there are no apples on the trees this year? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  27. cincinnatibabyhead May 10, 2019 / 12:46 pm

    “Nature lover and boxing fan” that’s CB. I’m still trying to figure out my azaleas from my rhodos.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Isabelle May 10, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    The temperature dropped from 19 degrees (last week) to 5 degrees this week in Oslo. Is it a climate change? Never mind. It feels good to enjoy your lovely and colourful azaleas blossoms, hoping our flowers will wake up soon after this cold shock.
    Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Janet Sunderland May 10, 2019 / 8:02 pm

    I love that park! What a gift to wander around. We have the Nelson Adkins which now has flowering dogwood, but nothing quite as spectacular as those azaleas! Nice shots, Neil.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 10, 2019 / 9:15 pm

      Hi Janet. There are any number of excellent parks in Philadelphia, and the Azalea Garden is one of them. Philly is quite a city. Have an excellent weekend. See you.


  30. tanjabrittonwriter May 11, 2019 / 5:18 am

    I was with you, Neil, until your detour to the museum. In the Wild West, when nature calls, we heed her call by disappearing behind her trunks and among her foliage. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Cristina Crawford May 11, 2019 / 6:48 am

    Love Azaleas…except for reasons unbeknownst to me… not a fan of the white ones. Sometime you’ll have to wander on down to our Nation’s Capital. The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at The National Arboretum is well worth the visit. Wish I could post a photo here of one of their spectacular bonsai’s….hundreds of years old. Have a happy weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. smilecalm May 11, 2019 / 8:18 am

    a career in sports
    & gardening journalism
    awaits 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  33. tylerus May 11, 2019 / 2:28 pm

    The colors are breathtaking – you are an awesome photographer, Neil (and pretty gosh-darn-good storyteller/blogger, too). 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Julie Holmes, author May 11, 2019 / 5:17 pm

    Love these pic, Neil! And wow, to be in the AG with all the flowers blooming would be awesome! Thank you for sharing ❤ 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 11, 2019 / 8:28 pm

      Hey there, Julie. The azaleas in my region have started to lose their flowers. So, I was lucky to be in the AG at the right time. Thanks for dropping by. I’m always glad to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. endardoo May 12, 2019 / 4:54 am

    It’s always good to wake up and smell the azelias! Or something like that!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Gabriela May 12, 2019 / 8:23 am

    Funny how azaleas stayed on your mind after your last post. They look delightful. Though I, for one, felt tantalized by the mention of the art museum visit, quickly swept under the … Rocky statue.

    And speaking of your last post, I really enjoyed Bedouine’s Bird. That was an awesome discovery for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 12, 2019 / 11:18 am

      Hi Gabriela. The art museum hired Frank Gehry some years ago to design plans for expanding and reconfiguring the building. All kinds of construction is taking place there now, as a result. I think the end results will be very good.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. jeanleesworld May 12, 2019 / 10:32 pm

    Good thing you’re a member! I’m hoping to take Blondie to the gardens in Madison when the boys are still in school. We all need time in the flowers now and then. x

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Joe May 13, 2019 / 2:03 am

    Pretty pictures, Neil. After your successful visit to the men’s room, did you do a Rocky victory dance on the Art Museum steps?

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Esme upon the Cloud May 13, 2019 / 11:49 am

    Beautiful photos, I do love a good display of blossom like this and rarely see Azaleas, so all the more a treat.

    – Esme smelling the flowers from upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 13, 2019 / 12:57 pm

      Hi Esme. I agree. It’s fabulous when nature unveils lots of beautiful colors. Many thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Pam Lazos May 14, 2019 / 12:12 pm

    Oh how I love the azalea garden, Neil. Thanks for the virtual trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. johnlmalone May 16, 2019 / 5:41 pm

    great fotos !ntersting snippet about Sly; I wonder, was Rocky Balboa a real person?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 16, 2019 / 7:09 pm

      Hi. I looked this up just now: Apparently Stallone loosely based the Balboa character on real-life boxer Chuck Wepner.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. viewfromoverthehill May 17, 2019 / 12:12 am

    Hi Neil: When I first moved here from L.A. I was overwhelmed by the many colors of the beautiful tulips everywhere. I suggested to my colleagues that during the night, people employed by those large buildings downtown were paid to paint them. Loved your photos. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 17, 2019 / 7:22 am

      You might be right about how the tulips get their color! I like your theory.


  43. America On Coffee May 17, 2019 / 2:04 am

    There are a lot of blooming excitements with you, Neil. A flowering Spring and beautiful Summer interface. Such lovely inspirations.

    Liked by 1 person

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