US National Arboretum Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside

rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)February 9, 2011

The US National Arboretum attracts over 100,000 visitors each spring when over 10,000 Glenn Dale Azaleas on the south face of Mt. Hamilton burst into bloom. They were planted before 1949 and fell into decline by the 1970s. But since 1980, they have been revitalized and have turned into the premier garden attraction in Washington, DC, each spring.

If you haven't seen them yet, you may want to check the website The head gardener thinks he needs to destroy all of the azaleas after they bloom in 2011, so he and his staff won't have to take care of them. The irony is that they have been brought back from decline and are maintained primarily by enthusiastic volunteers.

If you want to see them or want others to have the chance to see them, please help save them. The campaign to contact USDA administrators and members of Congress has succeeded in bring the pending plans of destruction into the open and seems to be making some headway in saving the azaleas. Contact information for these people is available at

Here is a link that might be useful:

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The new director of the National Arboretum has suspended but not cancelled plans to remove the Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside, the National Boxwood Collection and the Perennial Gardens. The new funding is about half of what they say they need to keep things the way they are.

Recent communications from the arboretum say that many plants are still in jeopardy. Apparently the people that made the bad decision in the first place want to keep face by removing plants which don't have labels. The fallacy in that is that these plants have been documented for about 80 years with plot maps and volunteers are actively using these maps to verify the identity of these plants.

Some are very valuable plants such as the striking bi-color which was named "Ben Morrison," after the developer of the Glenn Dale Azaleas and founder of the National Arboretum, by Dr. John Creetch when he was director of the Arboretum and after Morrison had died. The interesting fact is that the azalea "Ben Morrison" has unknown parentage. Some of the plants that are documented are descendants of plants that were not documented. Yet they say that the descendants are documented. How do they make these useless distinctions. Today with DNA, all plants can be documented much more accurately than with questionable historical records.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:06AM
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