THE ENGLISH-speaking peoples manage a certain restraint in their gardens, as a rule - at least sufficient space is allowed for the various plants to be seen. But they tend to go mad if they get their hands on any members of great Rhododenron genus.
This week a grand example of that infatuation, which I share, may be seen at the Australian embassy, 3120 Cleveland Ave. NW.
The occasion will be the 32nd annual tour of the embassies to benefit Goodwill Industries, a non-profit organization, which trains and rehabilitates the handicapped.
Saturday, May 13 is the day, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at the embassies on tour.
Besides Australia, the embassies this year will be those of Japan, Morocco, Panama and Sweden, plus the National Presbyterian Church and Center and the home of True Davis, former ambassador to Switzerland.
The Australians, to get back to them, have massed several hundred, or maybe several thousand, azaleas in a grand assortment of colors along their entrance drive. Even if you don't go on the tour, you can hardly miss the riot of color seen through the iron gates on Cleveland.
But inside you can stroll leisurely up the pave roadway with azaleas massed on rising slopes to each side, in lavender, scarlet, white, rose, salmon, pink, orange, and it is wonderful to seek.
There are those, and of course they are right, sort of, who say azaleas should be used here and there like jewels in a forest setting. And I admit that nothing is more easily overdone than tremendous clots of azalea color.
It is just that I love azaleas overdone.
In food, a moderate diet is always right, yet once in a great while a pig-out is desirable. Exactly the same principle operates in gardens.
Generally, flowers in a garden should be used with great care. The only exceptions I believe in making are for crocuses, daffodils, irises, peonies, roses and dahlias. And chrysanthemums, of course.
If you like azaleas of all colors massed like a dozen Fourth of Julys and feel guilty about it, as if you were being ignoble, you can try telling yourself that in our brilliant sunlight it's okay. That's what I tell myself.
After a while, you will feel like going on past the azaleas and seeing the rest of the garden. There is a large lawn, vivid green, shaded by tall oaks, serene and flawless. Those who are utterly refined may view the azaleas from there, where they show as jewels in the distance.
If you are not fully blinded coming up the driveway (and I am glad to say the azaleas, chiefly of Kurume types which you recall are totally covered with blooms, should be about at their peak on Saturday) you will see other things.
To the left near the top of the drive you may see a little clump or two of quite late white daffodils and the greenish of an ornithogalum.
To the right, just past the azalaas, I noticed a superb red tree peony - a small plant - with one bloom open. There is a large beech, now in its first flush of spring glory with newly opened leaves, as you go around to the back, or garden front, of the house.
There are some simple yew hedges, a few more azaleas, and some small rose beds against the house edged with coral bells coming into bloom.
A little fenced-off patch contains a couple of small greenhouses and the remains of some tulips and daffodils grown in rows for cutting - an excellent idea for anybody who has the space for them.
On the wall of the house you can see a cotoneaster that has been encouraged to grow up, leaning against the brick, and it must be pretty in the fall with its tiny red berries, as it is pretty now it herringbone branches and tiny neat leaves.
Geraniums have been set out to brighten some beds, and I noticed some hemlock hedges here and there.
On this tour they announce they will have light refreshments, and the ticket price includes free bus service between embassies and a souvenir booklet. This year's chairman is Mrs. John E. Threlfall.