Most days I have walked my gardens all winter, seeing what carries the color day to day, watching for first blooms. If we get some relatively warm afternoon weather I will begin cleaning up the debris from last year. Middle to end of February is normally when I shift from just walking my garden to working in my garden. However, this year our early warm up did not happen and here it is March, when the soil thaws under the mulch it is time to feed my azaleas and rhododendrons.
My first azalea to bloom is about mid-April. From that date thru mid-September one or more of my azalea collection will be in bloom. If they are to receive the energy they need for strong root systems, new plump buds and abundant blooms, they need to be fed now. It will take some time for rains to settle the fertilizer into the soil so it can be taken up by the plant and used as needed. So, I have formed a ritual each late winter of making sure my azalea get off to a good start each year.