There’s trouble brewing at the United States National Arboretum in Washington DC. The nation’s only federally funded arboretum is facing a funding crisis and plans call for the fall 2011 removal of up to 10,000 undocumented azaleas as well as some perennials and boxwood around the 446-acres of gardens.
According to Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener blog, the arboretum’s interim director Dr. Ramon Jordan spelled out the facts about the loss of private funding for two gardener positions translating to 30% of the actual gardeners who are needed to catalog and move plant collections to save what they can. Outrage over the plans for the removal of azaleas, boxwood and perennials is being heard all over the internet.
As a guest blogger on Washington Gardener blog site, Don Hyatt, noted azalea expert, breeder and grower, expressed a powerful argument against the removal of azaleas . Garden Rant’s Susan Harris addressed the subject, inviting supporters to link to a Azalea Cause facebook site or Save the Azalea site where emails of senators and congressmen are listed. Today, in the Washington Post, a column by Adrian Higgins summed up the fury of azalea lovers.
Each spring, more than 100,000 visitors from the US and elsewhere flock to the hillside of azalea blooms, color grouped for maximum impact and splendor. Lets hope that renewed quest for funding will save the gardens before the time runs out.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester