Save The Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum
Help FONA Save The Azalea & Boxwood Collections
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U.S. National Arboretum releases a Living Collections Policy

On November 9, 2010, the National Arboretum announced it would "be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection."

On June 16, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill in which it "directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection" and furthermore "encourages the National Arboretum to work collaboratively with supporters of the National Arboretum to raise additional funds to ensure the long-term viability of these and other important collections."

On April 25, 2012, the National Arboretum announced a "Living Collections Policy" where:

"The Plant Collections Committee will provide oversight of the Living Collections to ensure alignment with research, educational, and display priorities and the USNA Strategic Plan. The Plant Collections Committee, comprised of the Gardens Unit Leader, Plant Records Horticulturist, designated Woody Landscape Germplasm Repository staff member, and four other members to be named by the Director of the USNA will meet at least twice a year to develop recommendations for plant acquisition and deaccessioning. Their work and oversight will ensure effective and comprehensive integration of the acquisition, placement, management, and use of the USNA Living Collections. The Plant Collections Committee will also oversee the biennial review of collection inventories, and will coordinate plant exploration activities of the USNA. The addition or removal of any garden or collection will involve review by the Plant Collections Committee and the Director of the USNA and will only be undertaken after diligent consideration of the impact on other gardens, collections, and programs of the USNA and its stakeholders, and careful analysis of whether such change is consistent with the USNA’s mission and strategic plan."

"The process of deaccession and removal of unwanted plants requires several steps which can take a year or more to complete. The Plant Records Horticulturist must be notified prior to deaccession of any plant. Removal of the plant will be postponed if a herbarium voucher must be collected or the plant must be propagated prior to removal. If the plant to be deaccessioned is not commercially available, every attempt will be made to offer propagules of deaccessioned plants to other public gardens and research entities that are likely to be interested in them prior to their removal."

For more information read the complete copy of the:

U. S. National Arboretum Living Collections Policy

How You Can Help Save the Azalea & Boxwood Collections

STAB

At the U. S. National Arboretum, we made breakthroughs in the battle to save the Glenn Dale Azaleas and Boxwood Collections from being destroyed due to budget challenges. The Arboretum targeted these two collections to be removed due to recent budget setbacks. A global expression of outrage has caused a reversal of this decision and offered us an opportunity to save these collections and have a voice in their future.

1) On February 14, 2011, non-profit Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) started an endowment fund to “maintain and preserve the azalea and boxwood collections” by securing a $1 million gift. They need a total of $2 million for this fund called Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections. The same day National Arboretum announced it was suspending actions to remove the Glenn Dale Azaleas from their extensive collection of azaleas, as well as the National Boxwood and Perennial Collections.

2) On March 10, 2011, the U.S. National Arboretum convened a meeting of over 30 representatives from the societies most involved with the Arboretum. These are called stakeholders since they have a stake in the operation of the Arboretum. This meeting emphasized the need for the Arboretum to rebuild trust with the stakeholders by consulting with stakeholders and informing them of any changes in the plans of the Arboretum. Hopefully this meeting was just the first in an ongoing series of stakeholder meetings.

3) On June 2, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee "directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection."

4) On June 8, 2011, the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) convened a meeting with the stakeholders. The groups reported progress in their efforts to support FONA's Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections campaign. Arboretum Director, Dr. Hefferan was invited to visit the group and made a very encouraging statement. The Glenn Dale Azaleas are no longer considered a "scientific research collection" and as a result, documentation such as names and hybrid crosses are no longer important. The Glenn Dale Azalea Collection's inherent worth is a result of it history, uniqueness, horticultural value, popularity, esthetic value, and its educational value as an example of how plants of improved hardiness, flower color and size, and habit can be created through hybridization. Dr. Hefferan revealed that the Arboretum will finally use an $8,000 gift, which was sitting unused since1992, to improve signage in the Glenn Dale Azalea collection to feature the Collection's educational value.

The struggle to fund the care and maintenance of these collections is only a little beyond half over. All stakeholders are asking their members to participate in this effort. FONA is also asking visitors to the Arboretum and other friends of the Arboretum to contribute. We all need to step up and help complete this effort to Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections. This effort appeals to all who appreciate and wish to help save these magnificent collections.

We are soliciting a gift from each garden club member, visitor and other friend of the Arboretum.

This is a one-time campaign to provide an endowment that will ensure the continuing care and preservation of the Azalea & Boxwood Collections including the perennial planted in the Boxwood Collection.

Plant Level:   Dig in and help with a $10 gift.
Mulch Level:   Move closer to the goal with a $100 gift
Fertilize Level:   Make a major gift of $1000 or more
Azalea Angel:   Include Save The Azalea & Boxwood Collections in your planned giving by contacting FONA at (202) 544-8733

All gifts must go to the Friends of the National Arboretum’s (FONA) Save The Azalea & Boxwood Collections fund. FONA has a convenient website to make your donations at: http://www.fona.org/. For those that prefer to mail their donation, they may send them to:

Friends of the National Arboretum,
3501 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002

or call FONA at (202) 544-8733. Make checks to 'FONA' and be sure to specify in the memo it is for “Save The Azalea & Boxwood Collections”.

All donations in any amount are appreciated. For a flier of this solicitation, download FONA-STAB.pdf

FONA needs your support. Together with FONA we have the power to save these wonderful collections. Please show your support by making a tax-deductible contribution to FONA's special fund to Save the Azalea and Boxwood Collections.

Spread the word! Help FONA spread the word by letting your family and friends know about the campaign!

     
Poster Brochure Fact Sheet Q&A

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) is an independent and national 501(C)(3) non-profit organization.


Why the Glenn Dale Azalea & Boxwood Collections Are Worth Saving

The National Arboretum publication, "Glenn Dale Hybrid Azaleas": states, "Nothing says spring like azaleas! One of the National Arboretum's most popular plantings, the Glenn Dale Azaleas, draws thousands for annual spring viewing. Horticulturist Benjamin Y. Morrison worked for over 25 years to create this superior group of winter-hardy azaleas with large, colorful flowers suitable for the Washington, DC region. ... The south face of Mt. Hamilton at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC was planted with approximately 15,000 azaleas from Glenn Dale in 1946-47. In 1949, the Arboretum opened to the public for the first time during the azalea bloom."

The Azalea Society of America published, "The Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside, the Morrison Garden, and the Frederic P. Lee Garden comprise the 12,000-plus Azalea Collection, the country's premier reference collection."

When world-renowned azalea authority, Donald Hyatt spoke at the 2008 International Rhododendron Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, he emphasized in his conclusion: "Although evergreen azaleas are probably the most commercially successful members of the genus Rhododendron, they still have much unrealized potential. It should be possible to develop new varieties with greater hardiness, better plant habits, distinctive foliage, and flowers with new forms and different colors. It is also important to find ways to preserve existing species and cultivars so they are more readily available to researchers, hybridizers, and gardeners. The author feels that the United States National Arboretum is probably the best repository of such genetic diversity in evergreen azaleas anywhere in the world and he hopes that it will remain so."

The National Boxwood Collection is the only collection for all registered forms of Boxwood in the world. It is irreplaceable. At one time the Arboretum had the goal of publicizing the many advantages of Boxwood including its not being damaged by deer.

On Nov. 9, 2010, the National Arboretum confirmed it was destroying the National Boxwood collection and the azaleas on the Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside after the 2011 blooming season.

On Feb. 14, 2011, the National Arboretum announced it was suspending actions to remove the Glenn Dale azaleas from their extensive collection of azaleas, as well as the National Boxwood and Perennial Collections. FONA announced an endowment campaign to "maintain and preserve the azalea and boxwood collections."

We will keep on top of this to make sure it is resolved.

Quick Guide to Major Milestones
7-6-13: Dr. Ackerman passes away.
4-25-12: USNA releases a Living Collections Policy
6-8-11: FONA & Stakeholders meet with Dr. Hefferan
6-2-11: Congress: Save The Azaleas
4-27-11: Higgins: Azaleas at Arboretum
4-26-11: WJLA TV-Azaleas May Fall To Budget Cuts
4-25-11: Dr. Hefferan on WAMU
4-22-11: NBC TV-Save the Azaleas!
4-18-11: FONA Announces Save The Azaleas & Boxwood Campaign
3-1-11: Tom Schuetz: Bru-ha-ha at National Arboretum
2-14-11: FONA Announces Endowment & Major Donation
2-14-11: Arboretum Suspends Plans to Remove Collections
2-4-11: Hyatt: Azaleas Aren't Culls
2-1-11: Hill Rag: National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit
1-24-11: China Garden at Arboretum
1-20-11: Arboretum To Axe Azaleas
11-9-10: Hyatt's response to Aker's plan

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Statements by the U. S. National Arboretum


USNA

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arboretum Releases New “Living Collections Policy”

The U.S. National Arboretum is pleased to release a new “Living Collections Policy” which describes the purposes and procedures for decisions and practices related to living Germplasm at the Arboretum. As a conservator of plant materials for current and future research purposes, and for public display and education, we developed this policy to reflect guidance from the scientific and broader stakeholder community and to serve our mission to foster discovery leading to economically, environmentally and aesthetically valuable landscapes and environmental horticulture. The policy will be in force for five years, after which it will be subject to review and revision.

Colien Hefferan, Director
U.S. National Arboretum

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FONA
STAB

June 8 Meeting of FONA & Stakeholders with Dr. Hefferan

FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM HOLD MEETING

Hefferan
Dr. Colien Hefferan
Arboretum Director

On June 8, 2011, the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) convened a meeting with the stakeholders (related plant societies). Those present included FONA members, and members from the American Rhododendron Society, the Azalea Society of America, the Boxwood Society, the Daffodil Society, and the National Capital Area Garden Clubs. Dr. Colien Hefferan spent almost an hour with the group.

The highlights of the meeting were when Dr. Hefferan made several very encouraging statements.

1) Dr. Hefferan emphasized that the Arboretum is no longer considering destruction of the azalea collection, but is working to find funding for it continued maintenance and improvement. There was a period around 1982 when the azalea garden was neglected and almost lost to erosion and invasive species. Curator Barbara Bullock has made enormous strides by rerouting the trails to prevent erosion and continuing efforts to remove invasive species. [Don Hyatt pointed out that Azalea Valley, a gift of deciduous azaleas from the Dutch government after World War II, has completely disappeared due to erosion and invasive species.] Dr. Hefferan said the Arboretum’s efforts are to insure the remaining Azalea Collection doesn't suffer the same fate.

2) Dr. Hefferan realizes the funds derived from the Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections endowment can only be used to preserve and maintain the azalea and boxwood collections. These collections stand on their own merit and will not be destroyed.

3) Dr. Hefferan revealed that the Arboretum would finally use an $8,000 gift, which was sitting at FONA unused since 1992, to improve signage in the Glenn Dale Azalea collection. The new signage will feature the Azalea Collection's educational value as an example of how plants with improved hardiness, flower color and size, and habit can be created through hybridization.

4) The Glenn Dale Azaleas stand on their own merit and should not be considered a scientific research collection. [This is a major breakthrough since a reason previously mentioned to destroy plants was that they were not documented.] As a result, documentation such as names and the specific hybrid crosses are not important. The Glenn Dale Azalea Collection's inherent worth is a result of it history, uniqueness, horticultural value, popularity, esthetic value, and its educational value. [Don Hyatt mentioned this is welcome breakthrough, but that he is part of a study group that will attempt to reestablish the identity of the named varieties and find clones that have not been named and should be named.]

5) The Arboretum’s concern is how to manage their budget while still funding the maintenance of the Azalea Collections. They are fortunate to have a very loyal and dedicated staff. But decreased federal funding accompanied with the rapidly increasing utility and water costs are posing challenges.

6) The most visited garden in the Arboretum is the Azalea Collection. Next come the Bonsai Collection and the Asian Valley. New gardens being installed this fall will include a Rain Garden, featuring drought-tolerant plants, and a garden featuring native plants and their cultivars. These gardens, remodeling of the visitors center, and several other projects are being funded by stimulus money.

The original decisions regarding the elimination of the Glenn Dale Hillside and the Boxwood Collection were prompted by a decision of the Dorothy Jordan Chadwick Trust to terminate, after 10 years, it annual donation of $100,000 to support additional staff in the National Arboretum’s Asian Collections. The Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections campaign will provide an endowment that will equal that income but will be restricted for use in the Azalea and Boxwood Collections.

The stakeholder groups reported progress in their efforts to support FONA's Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections campaign. The total raised beyond the single one million dollar gift is $40,000. All campaign costs are being covered out of FONA’s operating budget. 100% of the money raised in the Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections campaign will go toward the endowment. None will be used for fundraising.

FONA is exploring ways to attract major gifts for the Save The Azalea and Boxwood Collections campaign. They would appreciate any leads. One major gift they receive each year is a gift-in-kind. Bartlett Tree Experts sends in all of its crews from Washington, DC, and surrounding states to spend 1 day doing a massive amount of work. The entire day is preplanned to insure all work scheduled is completed.

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USNA

Monday, February 14, 2011

Arboretum Announcement Regarding
the Azalea and Boxwood Collections

The U. S. National Arboretum is suspending actions to remove the Glenn Dale azaleas from our extensive collection of azaleas, as well as the National Boxwood Collection and Perennials Collection, subject to further discussions with stakeholders about the process and criteria for decisions about our collections. Although the resource challenges facing the Arboretum which initially led to these decisions are still very real and in need of solution, we want to reassess our current resource use and opportunities to expand private support before we reduce or eliminate collections the public so values.

We have heard and appreciate the public outpouring of comments and concerns about deaccessioning the Glenn Dale azaleas and the boxwood and perennials collections. Managing resources through difficult times is challenging, but with the advice and guidance of our many stakeholders and colleagues we hope to develop an effective and well-understood policy for implementing decisions about our collections, as well as innovative approaches to developing new resources to sustain and support the Arboretum.

Please share your ideas and recommendations regarding these issues by responding to the questions we have posted in a new comment box, Collections Comment Form. We are eager to add your ideas to our decision-making processes.

Sincerely,

Colien Hefferan, Director
U.S. National Arboretum

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The webmasters comments to the National Arboretum are published below. Make sure you submit your ideas.

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The following are pertinent documents concerning this issue.

Quick Guide to Major News Milestones
4-25-12: USNA releases a Living Collections Policy
6-8-11: FONA & Stakeholders meet with Dr. Hefferan
6-2-11: Congress: Save The Azaleas
4-27-11: Higgins: Beauty of Azaleas at Arboretum
4-26-11: WJLA TV-Azaleas May Fall To Budget Cuts
4-25-11: Dr. Hefferan on WAMU
4-22-11: NBC TV-Save the Azaleas!
4-18-11: FONA Announces Save The Azaleas & Boxwood Campaign
3-1-11: Tom Schuetz: Bru-ha-ha at National Arboretum
2-14-11: FONA Announces Endowment & Major Donation
2-14-11: Arboretum Suspends Plans to Remove Collections
2-1-11: Hyatt: Azaleas Aren't Culls
2-1-11: Hill Rag: National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit
1-24-11: China Garden at Arboretum
1-20-11: Arboretum To Axe Azaleas
11-9-10: Hyatt's response to Aker's plan
Guide To This Site                Site Mission Statement                Sites Linking Here                Index to Authors

Nov. 8, 2010: Aaron Cook Confirms National Arboretum's Intent To Remove Mt. Hamilton Azalea Hillside

Nov. 9, 2010: Correspondence from Scott Aker of National Arboretum to Ron Rabideau

        Don Hyatt's response to Scott Aker's Nov. 9, 2010, Correspondence to Ron Rabideau

Nov. 9, 2010: From Hale Booth, Congressional Contacts

Nov. 15, 2010: Notes by Henry Skinner in 1968 Regarding the mission of the National Arboretum

Nov. 21, 2010: From Don Hyatt, Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum

Nov. 22, 2010: From Ramon Jordan, Interim Director U.S. National Arboretum, to Aaron Cook

Nov. 24, 2010: From Aaron Cook, "Good News, A Temporary Reprieve"

Nov. 24, 2010: From FONA Chair, Jeanne Connelly, Responds to Director Ramon Jordan

Nov. 29, 2010: From Bob Stelloh: "The Azaleas Are Not The Financial Problem"

Nov. 29, 2010: Letters from Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

Dec. 4, 2010: FONA Chairman, Jean Connelly, and National Bonsai Foundation President, Felix Laughlin, Speak Out

Dec. 8, 2010: From Aaron Cook, "Azaleas and Boxwoods Still at Risk"

Dec. 12, 2010: From Tom Johnson, of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Offers to rescue cuttings if the unthinkable occurs.

Dec. 28, 2010: Reply from National Arboretum accepts Tom Johnson's offer to save rare azaleas.

Jan. 3, 2011: From Dr. William L. Ackerman to Ms. Hefferan, Director, U.S. National Arboretum.

Jan. 19, 2011: U.S.-China Chinese Garden Project at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Jan. 20, 2011: Hearst TV: "National Arboretum Plans To Axe Its Azaleas".

Jan. 24, 2011: China Garden to be Established at National Arboretum.

Feb. 1, 2011: "U.S. National Arboretum Decision To De-Accession Selected Collections" by Harold Belcher

Feb. 1, 2011: Hill Rag: "National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit, Azalea decision may get a lucky break".

Feb. 2, 2011: From Ramon Jordan to Senator Webb, Virginia: "We Will Still De-Accession 'Undocumented' Plants"

Feb. 3, 2011: From Steve Henning: "National Arboretum's Unlabeled Plants".

Feb. 4, 2011: From Don Hyatt: "National Arboretum's Glenn Dale Azaleas Aren't Culls".

Feb. 14, 2011: Friends of the National Arboretum Announces Major Donation.

Feb. 14, 2011: Arboretum Announcement Regarding the Azalea and Boxwood Collections..

Feb. 19, 2011: Tom Schuetz: 'Bru-ha-ha at the National Arboretum".

Mar. 1, 2011: "Update: U.S. National Arboretum" by Harold Belcher

Mar. 4, 2011: Jeanne Connelly in the Washington Post: "Support your local arboretum - the U.S. National".

Mar. 4, 2011: Friends of the National Arboretum on Facebook.

Mar. 10, 2011: National Arboretum hosts Stakeholders Meeting at National Arboretum

Mar. 20, 2011: National Arboretum Collections Saved

Mar. 20, 2011: Million dollar donation, stakeholders' outrage save Arboretum's azaleas, boxwoods from deliberate destruction

Apr. 18, 2011: FONA Announces the Azalea and Boxwood Collections Campaign.

Apr. 22, 2011: NBC TV telecast from the Azalea Collection at the National Arboretum

Apr. 25, 2011: Dr. Colien Hefferan appears on The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Apr. 26, 2011: WJLA telecast from the Azalea Collection at the National Arboretum

June 2, 2011: House Committee says Save The Azaleas

June 8, 2011: FONA & Stakeholders Meet with Dr. Hefferan

June 14, 2011: House Republicans Cut Food Assistance For Low-Income Families While Protecting Azaleas

June 25, 2011: Arboretum Sharing Rare Azalea Cuttings

June 27, 2011: Magnolia Plantation to get azalea cuttings from U.S. arboretum

April 25, 2012: USNA releases a Living Collections Policy

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Aaron Cook Confirms National Arboretum's Intent To Remove Mt. Hamilton Azalea Hillside

cookFrom Aaron Cook, President of the American Azalea Society, Nov. 8, 2010
To Yahoo! Azalea Group and Yahoo! Rhodo Group
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15413 and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rhodo/message/25199

The rumors are true. I just got off the phone with Scott Aker, the Unit Garden Leader for the National Arboretum. Beginning in the summer of 2011 a large number of azaleas on the Mt. Hamilton hillside will be cut down and the stumps treated with herbicide.

This group of azaleas is selections of Glenn Dale hybrids made in 1939 and propagated by Ben Morrison for further study and selection. They were planted on the southern flank of Mt. Hamilton in organized groupings of between 3 and 20 plants sometime about 1946-47. No one knows the true number planted, but the estimate is somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000. Each group was labeled with a Bell-Number (which was the number assigned to all clones before they were officially selected and Introduced, and it traced back to the actual crosses, or parents of each of the groups.

Barbara Bullock became the Azalea curator in 1990 with the help of volunteers began to restore the hillside. Many of the Bell numbers were located and a map of their locations was produced. The Bell-numbers roughly correspond to a grex (offspring of a cross). Scott's point that (not one of the labels was ever found actually attached to any of the azaleas) is probably true but a moot point due to the labels being used to denote a group of offspring from a single cross. There is a map of the rough locations where Bell Numbered labels have been found, and each group of plants associated with the label should correspond to a unique grex.

Scott estimates that there are less than 1000 plants on a total of 3 acres. Barbara and others including myself would put the estimate to over 5000 plants. The hillside is in the best shape it has been in for many years.

I had many questions that Scott could not answer and he promised to get back to me. I intend to make this a huge PR nightmare for him if he continues to push for plant removal.

If you would like to call or email Scott directly to voice your opposition to this lunacy:

Scott M Aker
Gardens Unit
Supervisory Research Horticulturist

Phone: (202) 245-4533
Fax: (202) 245-5973
Room 136h
U.S. National Arboretum
Administration
3501 New York Avenue, NE.
Washington, DC, 20002-1958

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Correspondence from Scott Aker of National Arboretum to Ron Rabideau at Rarefind

To Mr. Rabideau, Manager Rarefind Nursery, Nov. 9, 2010
CC: Dr. Ramon Jordan, Barbara Bullock, Carole Bordelon, and Margaret Pooler
From Scott Aker, Gardens Unit Leader, U.S. National Arboretum
Ref: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rhodo/message/25241

Thank you for your inquiry. We have indeed been forced to plan the removal of most of the azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside. While we have only had slight reductions in financial resources for the past ten years, our costs have gone up steadily, and our staff numbers have steadily eroded to the point where we cannot sustain all of our collections. Recently, we learned that a donor that has supported two gardener positions on our staff will no longer be providing that support, and the loss of this staff has resulted in the need to deaccession collections. We will be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection.

We do not have documentation for any of the plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside. Although Morrison's breeding records do exist, no labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can know its provenance beyond conjecture. This does not fit the rigorous standard we require for plant records. In 2008, we instituted a program to gradually replace these azaleas with masses of known Glenn Dale cultivars of certain provenance. To date, we have propagated plants for this effort, and we will proceed to plant them to replace masses of unknown azaleas.

Although volunteers have been active in restoring the Glenn Dale Hillside after a period of abandonment in the 1980s, it is inaccurate to state that the Hillside has been restored and maintained with volunteer labor alone. The staff hours spent in maintaining this area are greater than the volunteer hours spent there and have been consistently.

I cannot dispute the beauty of the display and its value as an attraction for our visitors. Currently, again in part to diminishing resources, we are now unable to accommodate the crowds of visitors in April and May when the azaleas are in bloom. We have inadequate parking and restroom facilities. It is becoming progressively more difficult to ensure a positive and safe visitor experience during this time frame, and some shifting of priorities in the Azalea Collection are needed to address this. We plan to incorporate a greater diversity of azaleas, most notably late blooming native species and cultivars derived from them, as well as Kurume and Satsuki azaleas that bloom later. We will still have a very significant display of azaleas that bloom in the late April / early May time frame.

This is not being driven by the need to use the land for other purposes; it is rather driven by the need to reduce the total labor needed to maintain our collections in an acceptable manner.

There are many very significant new introductions aside from the Syringa you mention. We have introduced two new Hydrangea quercifolia cultivars, 'Ruby Slippers' and 'Munchkin'; Callicarpa 'Duet', Camellia 'Anacostia', Prunus 'First Lady', and Viburnum 'Adirondack' in recent years. There are very active breeding efforts with Catalpa, Prunus, and Hydrangea underway, though I do not know all the details related to these efforts.

Thank you for your interest in developments here at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Scott Aker
Gardens Unit Leader
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958
202-245-4533

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Don Hyatt responds to the November 9, 2010, concerns of Scott Aker

The section following is a list of concerns raised by Scott Aker, the Gardens Unit Leader at the U.S. National Arboretum, in a message he sent on Nov. 9, 2010 to Dr. Ramon Jordan, Barbara Bullock, Carole Bordelon, Margaret Poole and Ron Rabideau. In this section, Don Hyatt addresses the concerns raised by Scott Aker.

Concerns of Scott Aker of the National Arboretum and replies by Azalea Expert Don Hyatt

Scott Aker's statement
Don Hyatt's reply
Scott Aker: "We have indeed been forced to plan the removal of most of the azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside." Don Hyatt: "Scott's reasons for destroying a National Treasure like the original Glenn Dale Hillside planted by the first Director of the Arboretum in 1947 seems extremely flawed with little or no input from stakeholders. Originally, the National Arboretum had an Advisory Board that provided expert advice. Due to the cost of bringing in specialists from afar, that committee was abandoned by the prior Director, Dr. Elias. Such a committee could be easily reinstated using either local experts or even distant talent utilizing teleconferencing techniques or Internet tools. Any action should be postponed at least until a permanent Director is named and that person has a chance to review the ramifications of destroying one of the main floral attractions in our Nation's Capital. "
Scott Aker: "Recently, we learned that a donor that has supported two gardener positions on our staff will no longer be providing that support, and the loss of this staff has resulted in the need to deaccession collections." Don Hyatt: "Destroying the National Boxwood Collection makes no sense at all. The reasoning cannot be the same as one of his key points about the azalea collection, the lack of documentation. The National Boxwood Collection is fully documented and its Curator has been there for 30 years. The Daylily collection, Peony Collection, and Daffodil Collection are also fully documented. To eliminate federally funded positions and entire collections of rare plants for the sole reason of adding staff to a single garden is ill advised. "
Scott Aker: "We will be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection." Don Hyatt: "Destroying the National Boxwood Collection makes no sense at all. The reasoning cannot be the same as one of his key points about the azalea collection, the lack of documentation. The National Boxwood Collection is fully documented and its Curator has been there for 30 years. The Daylily collection, Peony Collection, and Daffodil Collection are also fully documented. To eliminate federally funded positions and entire collections of rare plants for the sole reason of adding staff to a single garden is ill-advised."
Scott Aker: "We do not have documentation for any of the plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside." Don Hyatt: "The plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside are not just a tangle of inferior seedlings from a hybridizing project, but were the top 2 or 3% of the 40,000 to 50,000 azaleas Morrison raised from seed. The historical significance of that monumental breeding project alone and its relation to the first Director of the Arboretum should be sufficient to keep the display. The Azalea Curator with the assistance of many volunteers has been making excellent progress on plant identification. Many of the original Glenn Dales have been positively identified by using plant records, Morrison's notes, registration data, and comparison with known forms. Even unnamed plants whose parentage may never be identified still have merit and can be introduced. The striking bicolor azalea ‘Ben Morrison’ is one of those unknown plants. It was named by another Arboretum Director, the late Dr. John Creech, to honor the original hybridizer. A thorough assessment of the azaleas on that hillside should be completed before any plants are destroyed. I'll attach a few pictures of specific plants I have admired that are not named forms. One is a stunning bicolor and the other is a strong cream to almost yellow. Beautiful flowers, and beautiful plants." [see below]
bicolor cream

Scott Aker: "Although volunteers have been active in restoring the Glenn Dale Hillside after a period of abandonment in the 1980s, it is inaccurate to state that the Hillside has been restored and maintained with volunteer labor alone. The staff hours spent in maintaining this area are greater than the volunteer hours spent there and have been consistently."

Don Hyatt: "Volunteer hour records have been kept by the volunteer coordinator from the early 90's. The volunteer hours in the azalea garden are significant. They are typically at least 5 people one day a week all year long."

Scott Aker: "I cannot dispute the beauty of the display and its value as an attraction for our visitors. Currently, again in part to diminishing resources, we are now unable to accommodate the crowds of visitors in April and May when the azaleas are in bloom. We have inadequate parking and restroom facilities." Don Hyatt: "The Arboretum has several large parking areas, and for years has provided a shuttle service to get around to the various attractions. The Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society has held its flower show at the Arboretum during peak azalea time for nearly 40 years. Its members have not observed any difficulties, even in 2010 when the show coincided with the busy Friends of the National Arboretum plant sale. The Arboretum received $9 million in Federal stimulus funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That money has been put toward the renovation of the Administration Building, which includes additional public restrooms. That building is temporarily closed now but is scheduled to reopen in approximately 18 months when renovations are complete. "
Scott Aker: "This is not being driven by the need to use the land for other purposes; it is rather driven by the need to reduce the total labor needed to maintain our collections in an acceptable manner." Don Hyatt: "There has been no change in the labor position related to the Azalea Collection, so I fail to see the urgency in destroying the Glenn Dale Hillside that has been a focal point at the National Arboretum since it opened to the public in 1949. Cutting down so many huge azaleas that are more than 60 years old will be a costly expense for the Arboretum since it will be necessary to hire a contractor to cut down the azaleas and grind them into mulch. Denuding the hillside will make that land vulnerable to serious soil erosion that could be costly to control. Getting rid of the azaleas does not eliminate labor costs since staff will still be needed to control invasive alien plants. The most logical decision would be to leave the azaleas alone. "

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About Donald W. Hyatt

HyattDon Hyatt is recognized as a preeminent international authority on azaleas and rhododendrons. Although professionally a mathematics and computer science teacher in the local public school system for 33 years, Donald has always maintained a strong interest in plants. His educational background includes a Bachelors degree in Horticulture. Now retired, he has focused his efforts on varied horticulture interests including the documentation of various native azalea populations in North America.

He has served on the national boards of both the Azalea Society of America (ASA) and the American Rhododendron Society (ARS). He received the Bronze Medal from the Potomac Valley Chapter of the ARS in 1978 and was awarded the prestigious Silver Medal from the national organization in 2002, citing his life-long passion for the genus Rhododendron and his many contributions to the ARS and its goals. In 2001, the Brookside Gardens Chapter of the ASA awarded Don the Fredrick P. Lee Commendation for distinguished contributions in furthering the knowledge and appreciation of azaleas. In 2009, the Azalea Society of America presented Don the Distinguished Service Award. Don served as President of the Potomac Valley Chapter of the ARS for four terms. He is also a past President of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the ASA.

He is a frequent speaker at conferences, has authored a number of articles on azaleas and rhododendrons, and is an accomplished botanical illustrator. He is a dynamic and entertaining speaker and has been asked to speak for many meetings including: 2001 ASA National Convention in Asheville, North Carolina; 2002 Joint ASA & ARS National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia; 2008 International Rhododendron Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland; 2009 ASA National Convention in Herndon, Virginia; 2009 ARS Eastern Regional Conference in Lionville, Pennsylvania; 2010 ARS National Convention on Long Island, New York; 2010 International Rhododendron Symposium in Bremen, Germany; 2010 ARS District 9 Luncheon in McLean, Virginia; and for many local ARS and ASA Chapters and community organizations.

Don has a website at http://www.donaldhyatt.com. Links to papers based on Don's addresses in 2008 at the Edinburgh Conference and in 2009 at the ASA Keynote Address are available in the links section of this page.

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Congressional Contacts

From Hale Booth, President of Tennessee Valley Chapter ARS and past director of ASA, November 9, 2010:
To: Yahoo! Azalea Group
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15428

Aaron recently posted a notice that Mr. Scott Aker the Unit Garden Leader for the National Arboretum had decided the Glenn Dale azaleas at the National Arboretum should be destroyed next summer. As many of you know this collection on Mount Hamilton is very historic and is the result of a tremendous (and federally funded) breeding effort by Dr. Morrison in his long tenure with the USDA. I do not know the reasoning behind this decision, but there should be a rather direct route to stop this action. The US Congress budgets and approves the annual budget appropriation for USDA and thus the National Arboretum. Attached are links to both the US House of Representatives House Committee on Agriculture and the US Senate Agriculture Committee membership that oversee setting the budget for the department. If your Congressman or Senator is on one of these committees write him or her a note or letter (email is not as effective)and ask them to look into this and express your concern about the loss of this national treasure of Azaleas. These committee members will respond much better to someone writing them from their state or congressional district. Do not mail your note or letter to Washington, mail it to the local or state office of the Senator or Congressman. If you mail it directly to DC, it goes to some warehouse where it is treated and will show up next spring with the tulips, looking like it was on the bottom of a birdcage. You can Google your Congressman or Senator for their district or state office address.

This simple action of writing a letter about saving the historic, and valuable Glenn Dale Azalea planting at the National Arboretum can be very effective. Congress has many important and difficult issues to act on, if you bring this simple solvable issue to the attention of your member of this committee with funding oversight of the National Arboretum, they can likely solve it with a phone call.

http://ag.senate.gov/site/cmtemembers.html

http://agriculture.house.gov/singlepages.aspx?NewsID=34&LSBID=23|69&RBSUSDA=T

These links worked when I checked them, if they don’t work for you, simply Google Senate Agriculture Committee and House Committee on Agriculture and click on the respective members link.

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Notes by Henry Skinner in 1968 Regarding the Mission of the National Arboretum

skinnerFrom the History of the National Arboretum by Henry T. Skinner and edited by B. Y. Morrison. [1927-1967]

The Arboretum was to be an institution growing woody plants for the purpose of developing a careful appreciation and understanding for that part of the plant kingdom. It was constituted with the intention to investigate, to stimulate interest in woody plants, and to popularize knowledge of their characters and qualities, uses and cultivation. The Arboretum would assemble material, organize it, and make it available for study.

The functions of the National Arboretum can be itemized as follows:

a.) To popularize plant knowledge directly...by establishing a close affiliation with established garden clubs, nursery associations, botanical and other societies, also by means of lectures, publications and cooperation with the press.

b.) To preserve the rarer plant life of the world. There are many species of plants which are threatened with extinction ... Also we should not overlook the preservation of historic species and varieties of plants that were once of great service, but which are in danger of being lost through change in fashion or taste, difficulties of propagation or neglect.

c.) To maintain species collections of economic and ornamental plants.

d.) Exhibition of plants. The above-mentioned purpose leads directly to the exhibition of plants. ...Therefore the Arboretum should be developed with the stress placed on effect, rather than botanical relationship. This does not mean that related plants cannot be placed together because in general, related species have the same growth habit.

e.) To maintain research.

f.) To publish.

In the development of the USNA, stress would be placed on bringing together those species that are not hardy enough to be found in the other large arboreta of the country where climatic conditions are more rigorous than at Washington.

There are certain fields of research that the National Arboretum is preeminently fitted to undertake which in no way intrude on already existing lines of research pursued by the government. .... It will introduce into cultivation rare or unknown woody material, study it, and if found to serve some useful purpose, will recommend it's commercial cultivation along with full advice as to its propagation and treatment. Such material will be so arranged on the grounds of the Arboretum to show it to best advantage.

Around 1941, two types of plants were grown in the nurseries [of the Arboretum]: (1) those needed in quantity to establish a plant character that would differentiate this arboretum from others in the country and (2) those needed to build up the scientific collections that constitute the major purpose of the arboretum. These plants grew during the period of the emergency [WWII], and would be available, hopefully, for transplanting later to permanent locations in the Arboretum.

In the early 40's there were about 1,000 species growing [at the Arboretum]. Some additions were made to the collections of various families that had been started. .... One of the important projects that was started was the planting of Glenn Dale azaleas from Glenn Dale in 1947, Maryland to nurseries in the Arboretum [nurseries located where now Washington Youth Garden is located].

Glenn Dale Azaleas

The Glenn Dale azaleas were bred for a specific purpose by Mr. B. Y. Morrison, namely for the production of a garden race of azaleas that would be large-flowered and cold-hardy for the Washington, D. C. area and other regions of similar climate. The South had grown large-flowered azaleas, commonly known as the Southern Indicas, but these were not hardy in the North.

The seedlings of the hybrids were grown at Glenn Dale. When the plants had been sufficiently tested over a five-year period for hardiness, they were transplanted into a nursery in the Arboretum [where now WYG is located]. Here they were tested for about 5 years, and in 1947 were planted on the south slope of Mt. Hamilton. Approximately 7 acres of azaleas were planted on the hillside, consisting of 454 clones, and vegetatively propagated selections. (In other words, the hillside just may contain ALL of the named and many unnamed "selections"). These azaleas had a long period of flowering from early April to June. The setting for the azalea planting was one of the finest to be found anywhere in the United States. The valleys and hills, with plantings of evergreens [hemlocks, magnolias, & pseudolarix] provided a very beautiful display.

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Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum

hyattFrom Don Hyatt; international azalea authority, November 21, 2010
Ref: http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2010/11/save-azaleas-at-us-national-arboretum.html

On November 8, 2010, Aaron Cook, the President of the Azalea Society of America, learned that the U.S. National Arboretum in NE Washington, DC, plans to remove the mature azalea display on Mount Hamilton. The Garden Unit Leader at the National Arboretum, Mr. Scott Aker, announced that the azaleas will be cut down in the summer of 2011 and their stumps painted with herbicide. Many of us are upset by this decision.

The azaleas on Mt. Hamilton create one of the prime floral attractions in our Nation’s Capital. The lovely mature azaleas, many of which are over 60 years old, occupy perhaps 3 to 6 acres of the 446-acre Arboretum. There is no space issue. The azaleas are not overgrown or in decline. Working with many volunteers during the past 20 years, Ms. Barbara Bullock, the Azalea Curator, has restored the beauty and health of the collection after years of neglect. The azaleas are among the oldest and most spectacular specimens in the U.S. They are a National Treasure.

Historically, these azaleas are of particular importance to the U.S. National Arboretum since they were developed by its first Director, Benjamin Y. Morrison. They represent the top 2 to 3% of the 50,000 to 75,000 seedlings he raised when developing the famous Glenn Dale Azaleas. Morrison’s colossal breeding project has had no equal, and it produced the first large flowered azaleas hardy in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Below are the three primary reasons Mr. Aker has given via email inquiries regarding the decision to destroy the azalea collection. Following Mr. Aker’s statements are some facts that seem to contradict his reasoning.

1) The azaleas attract too many visitors, and that creates problems

Aker: “I cannot dispute the beauty of the display and its value as an attraction for our visitors. Currently, again in part to diminishing resources, we are now unable to accommodate the crowds of visitors in April and May when the azaleas are in bloom. We have inadequate parking and restroom facilities.”

Fact: The Arboretum has several large parking areas, and for years has provided a shuttle service to get around to the various attractions. The Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society has held its flower show at the Arboretum during peak azalea time for nearly 40 years. Its members have not observed any difficulties, even in 2010 when the show coincided with the busy Friends of the National Arboretum plant sale.

Fact: The Arboretum received $9 million in Federal stimulus funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That money has been put toward the renovation of the Administration building and includes adding more public restrooms. That facility is closed now but should reopen within the next 18 months.

2) Because the Asian Valley Exhibit lost private funding, the Arboretum will remove several other collections

Aker: “Recently, we learned that a donor that has supported two gardener positions on our staff will no longer be providing that support, and the loss of this staff has resulted in the need to deaccession collections. We will be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection.”

Fact: Neither of the privately funded positions involved the Azaleas, Boxwoods, or Perennials. There is no reason to eliminate federally funded positions in order to replace those private gardeners. Mr. Aker makes the staffing decisions, and Ms. Bullock continues to be the only person assigned to the 20-acre azalea collection. The physical removal those large azaleas will incur additional expenses. Denuding the hillside will increase the risk of erosion.

3) The azaleas are not well documented

Aker: “We do not have documentation for any of the plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside. Although Morrison's breeding records do exist, no labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can know its provenance beyond conjecture.”

Fact: Ms. Bullock and volunteers have been making excellent progress on plant identification. Many of the original Glenn Dale varieties have been positively identified on the hillside. They have used plant records, Morrison’s notes, registration data, and comparisons with known forms. Even unnamed plants whose parentage may never be identified still have merit and can be introduced. The striking bicolor azalea ‘Ben Morrison’ is one of those unknown plants. It was named by another Arboretum Director, the late Dr. John Creech, to honor the original hybridizer.

An irrevocable decision such as cutting down the Glenn Dale Azaleas would not likely have been made if the Arboretum had considered its ramifications. Originally, the Arboretum had an Advisory Board that provided expert advice to its leadership, but that group was dissolved in 1994. You can still advise USDA officials of your concerns:

1. Dr. Judith St. John, Deputy Administrator, National Program Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705 Phone: 301-504-6252 Fax: 301-504-4663
Email: Judy.stjohn@ars.usda.gov

2. Dr. Joseph Spence, Beltsville Area Director, 10300 Baltimore Blvd. Bldg. 003, BARC-West, Room 223, Beltsville, MD 20702 Phone: 301-504-6078 Fax: 301-504-5863
Email: Joseph.Spence@ars.usda.gov

3. Dr. Ramon Jordan, Interim Director, U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: 202-245-4539 Fax: 202-245-4574
Email: Ramon.Jordan@ars.usda.gov

[Guest Blogger Don Hyatt is a retired teacher and avid gardener. Don is recognized as a national authority on azaleas and rhododendrons and has served on the national boards of both the Azalea Society of America (ASA) and the American Rhododendron Society (ARS). He can be contacted at Don@donaldhyatt.com or at http://www.donaldhyatt.com/about.html.]

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Letter from Ramon Jordan, Interim Director, U.S. National Arboretum to Aaron Cook

From Ramon Jordan Interim Director, U.S. National Arboretum, November 22, 2010:

USDA

Dear Aaron Cook,

Please find attached is a letter that I am sending to you and other key U.S. National Arboretum stakeholders regarding our need to de-accession a few of our Collections. You have already spoken with Scott Aker, so you have most of this information already. The attached should address some of your earlier voiced concerns. I assure you, making the decision to remove any garden or collection is a painful one and not what any director or staff does without regret. However, due to the loss of long-standing support from a private donor, it is the only way, however, that currently available resources can be matched with the work involved in maintaining garden spaces at an acceptable standard.

Once you have read this letter, I would be happy to speak with you to discuss ways in which you could help support the gardens and collections of the National Arboretum. You have been a valuable partner in the past, and we look forward to strengthening this important relationship in the future.

Sincerely,
Ramon

---------- ----------

United States Department of Agriculture Research, Education, and Economics Agricultural Research Service United States National Arboretum 3501 New York Avenue, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002-1958 www.usna.usda.gov An Equal Opportunity Employer

November 15, 2010

Dear Aaron Cook; President, Azalea Society of America
[the same letter was also sent to Dear Ms. Leslie Zupan; President, Camellia Society of the Potomac Valley]

You may have heard that the National Arboretum's Gardens Unit will need to cut two gardener positions in 2012 due to the loss of long-standing support from a private donor. The lack of sufficient personnel to maintain all of the gardens and collections at the arboretum's D.C. campus has forced us to evaluate the best use of the unit's financial resources. We have determined that we have little choice but to de-accession collections. In the short-term, we will continue to examine other possible funding mechanisms.

Gardens Unit staff conducted a careful analysis of the collections and gardens to determine which should be proposed for de-accessioning. The analysis included the scientific value (germplasm) of each collection; its educational and interpretive value; its aesthetic value and appeal to visitors; and the current level of stakeholder involvement/support for the collection. The collections identified for de-accessioning would be removed—with important germplasm preserved through cuttings or transplanting, and some transplanted elsewhere on the arboretum grounds—and the space they occupied planted as low-maintenance woodland or meadow. Making the decision to remove any garden or collection is a painful one and not what any director or staff does without regret. It is the only way, however, that available resources can be matched with the work involved in maintaining garden spaces at an acceptable standard. For the first phase of withdrawing from the care of collections, we are proposing that the National Boxwood Collection and its associated Perennial Collections be de-accessioned. Also, while it has long been one of the most popular seasonal attractions at the National Arboretum, the extensive Glenn Dale Hillside of the Azalea Collections is for the most part undocumented plant material for which we cannot justify long-term maintenance.

The work to do this must be undertaken and started now so that it can be completed before the loss of the two staff positions in 2012. The process will consist of herbarium voucher documentation of identified plants in the collection, propagation of plants and shipment to other gardens, nurseries, and collections, and subsequent removal of the plants. Selected plants will be moved or propagated for new plantings in other areas at the arboretum. As a final step, native trees or meadow plants will be planted to restore the areas.

Long-term plans already exist to remove nearly all of the azaleas of unknown pedigree on the Glenn Dale Hillside (about 20-25% of the total azalea collection) so that they may be replaced with known Glenn Dale azalea introductions massed in large groups for visual impact, and to secure the germplasm holding with multiple plants. The plan now will shift to fast-track removal of azaleas of unknown pedigree so the area is less of a maintenance burden. Most removals are expected to take place in the summer of 2011.

2

The first steps in de-accessioning the National Boxwood Collection are the development of a complete and accurate inventory, communicating the availability of cuttings or rooted cuttings of the plants on the inventory, propagation of plants, and distribution of the resulting plants. Selected plants from the National Boxwood Collection and Perennials Collection will be moved or propagated to form the basis for new plantings elsewhere at the arboretum; for example, near the walled Morrison Garden in the Azalea Collections. This will create a smaller collection footprint that the Gardens Unit will be able to maintain with reduced resources. Removal of plants would not take place until autumn or winter of 2011-2012.

I know that you join me in wishing there were sufficient resources to retain these collections. I hope that you will understand that we cannot simply wait nor abandon collections when there is a reduction in staff. Because all signals currently point to a lack of financial resources sufficient to maintain existing collections by 2012, it would be irresponsible to allow the opportunity to distribute germplasm to pass by while we still have the staff to do the distribution or transplanting. While some might argue for the simple abandonment of garden spaces when staff positions are lost, this is not a responsible approach. Abandonment is environmentally harmful because of the potential for invasive species to become entrenched. It is nearly impossible to recover such collections after just a few years of abandonment without considerable expense.

Permanent sustained funding to support the minimum number of staff needed to develop and maintain our collections, but especially the boxwood and perennial collections and the azalea hillside, is the only viable way they can be saved. Should such funding become available, the replacement of unpedigreed plants with Glenn Dale cultivars on the Glenn Dale Hillside could be accomplished gradually, in a way that maintains the spring show while newly planted azaleas become established, and the de-accession of the National Boxwood Collection and Perennial Collections will not be necessary.

Managing resources through difficult economic times is challenging, but it can also offer opportunities. We will be carefully examining the resources we have to better engage the public and build strong support for the future. Visitation is trending upward, and the arboretum is still fortunate to have great potential in terms of location, land resource, and positive public recognition. Hopefully these assets will translate into a sound financial future if we can be prudent and deliberate with our resources in this time of transition.

I would be happy to speak with you to discuss ways in which you could help support the gardens and collections of the National Arboretum. You have been a valuable partner in the past, and we look forward to strengthening this important relationship in the future.

Sincerely,

Ramon Jordan
Interim Director, U.S. National Arboretum

---------- ----------

Greetings Dr. Jordan,

I am sorry but I find your arguments in support of destroying the collections completely unsubstantiated. If you follow through with the destruction of the Boxwood and Azalea collections, I can assure you that you will lose our support for any future National Arboretum projects. As well we will do every thing within our power, politically, economically, and using every media outlet available to lobby for new Arboretum leadership. There is already a "Save The National Arboretum Azaleas" website up on the web and a blog on the "Washington Gardener" website. The time to involve stakeholders is before decisions like this have been made, not after the fact.

Regards

Aaron Cook
President Azalea Society of America

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Good News, A Temporary Reprieve from Aaron Cook

cookFrom Aaron Cook; President, Azalea Society of America, November 24, 2010
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15499

Greetings All,

I am not saying we have won the war but I feel the tide is turning. I just got
off the phone with Dr. Joe Spence. He assured me that the plan to destroy the
Azaleas on Mt. Hamilton would be re-visited and that the Azalea Society and the
Rhododendron Society would have a seat at the table to discuss future plans. He
assured me that he has informed Dr. Jordan and Scott that they should not move
forward on any plans to remove plant material from the Arboretum at this time.
He also was very candid in saying he believes Scott overstepped his authority in
this instance. At this point I say let's keep up the pressure and remain
hopeful.

Best Regards

Aaron

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Friends of the National Arboretum Chair Speaks Out to Arboretum Director

From Jeanne Connelly, Chair of Friends of the National Arboretum, November 24, 2010
Ref: http://www.fona.org/storage/fona/documents/deaccession_letter_to_usna.pdf

FONA

November 24, 2010

Dr. Ramon Jordan
Interim Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington DC 20002-1958

Dear Dr. Jordan:

I am writing in response to your letter to Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) regarding the plans
of the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) to de-accession several collections at the Arboretum.

FONA understands that in these difficult economic times all public entities need to tighten their belts
and carefully prioritize how they spend their funds. However, we believe that the decision made by
USNA to try and save money by destroying these important and vital plant and tree collections would be
a terrible loss for the Arboretum and the public, which it serves. Over the years, millions of visitors have
come to view and enjoy these collections and they are an integral part of the Arboretum experience not
only for FONA members, but for all of the local, national and international visitors who come to the
Arboretum each year.

The main reason given for this decision is the loss of funding from a private trust, which has annually
provided funds ($110,000) for two gardeners in the Asian Collection. These funds will no longer be
available as of February 2012. Because the trust funds flowed through FONA, we are well aware that
the restrictions governing these funds required that they be used only to supplement the regular work
of USNA in Asia Valley, and were not to supplant the government funds used to regularly maintain that
garden. Therefore, we cannot understand how the future loss of these funds can justify such a drastic
and irrevocable decision affecting other collections.

We believe that the decision will cause irreparable harm that could not be undone if additional funds
were later found. For example, the Azalea Collection is the premier draw for the general public to come
out to the Arboretum in the Spring, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The plan, which is to tear
out the azaleas on the Glen Dale Hillside and apply herbicide so that they cannot return, will leave a
barren eyesore in one of the most visible and frequently visited locations in the Arboretum. Similarly,
the Boxwood Collection forms a beautiful green barrier from the heavy traffic on Bladensburg Road and
thus contributes greatly to the serene ambience of the Arboretum. The plan would entail the removal of
every tree in this collection, leaving unobstructed views and sounds of the highway.

We are concerned that these decisions were made without any input from stakeholders with a long-
abiding interest in and relationship with the Arboretum. These stakeholders have also provided
significant financial support to USNA over many years. We are asking the USNA and the Department of
Agriculture to reconsider this decision and find within its budget the necessary funds to maintain these
vital collections. At a minimum, we ask the Department to suspend the decision while it engages in a
process with stakeholders to review the need for this action, the decision-making process that led to this
decision, and the alternative sources of funding that might be available.

The Arboretum is a national treasure – 446 acres of green space in the midst of a dense urban area, with
world-class collections and gardens. We offer our assistance to the Department to find a way to reverse
this decision and save these vital and irreplaceable collections.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Connelly
Chair, Board of Directors

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Azaleas Are Not The Financial Problem

stellohFrom Bob Stelloh; Webmaster, Azalea Society of America, November 29, 2010
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15516

Characterizing it as a financial problem is completely misleading, as
Don Hyatt has pointed out. The loss of the $100,000
grant money only removes two gardeners from the Asian Valley, and has
nothing to do with other areas of the arboretum unless they plan to
replace them with gardeners from other areas.

More importantly, renovating and maintaining the azalea hillside on
Mt Hamilton for the past 15 years or so has cost the arboretum
nothing, since the work was and is being done by Barbara Bullock's
team of loyal volunteers.

On the other hand, it will cost money to remove the azaleas from the
hillside, and it will also create an ongoing maintenance expense,
because the volunteers are not going to happily destroy the azaleas
they have worked so hard and long to maintain, nor are they apt to
maintain the hillside after those azaleas are destroyed.

Regards,
Bob Stelloh
Hendersonville NC
USDA Zone 7

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Letters from Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

Norton

November 29, 2010

Mr. Ronald E. Springwater
4615 43rd Street Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20016-4517

Dear Dr. Springwater:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the U.S. National Arboretum. I greatly appreciate hearing from you.

I am concerned about the possible destruction of the unique azalea collection. I have attached a copy of my letter to the U.S. National Arboretum seeking information and an explanation. I also am working with my colleagues to maintain funding for the U.S. National Arboretum. The U.S. National Arboretum is a national treasure, essential for horticulture research and display, and a great benefit to the District of Columbia economy, District and regional residents, and tourists from throughout the world.

Please continue to keep me informed of your views on legislation and other congressional issues, and I invite you to write me whenever you have a federal issue or a problem with which you think I can be helpful. I also hope you will visit my website at www.norton.house.gov, which is kept up-to-date on what I am doing in Congress.

Sincerely,
N
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

==============================

November 29, 2010

Dr. Ramon Jordan
Interim Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Dr. Jordan,

A constituent recently wrote me concerning a proposal to minimize or destroy the unique azalea garden and other plant collections at the U.S. National Arboretum. I have worked with the Friends of the National Arboretum and with the U.S. National Arboretum to maintain this national treasure, essential for horticulture research and display, and a great benefit to the District of Columbia economy, District and regional residents, and tourists from throughout the world. I ask that you explain and update me on this matter and on what can be done to maintain this national attraction. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
N
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

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Friends of the National Arboretum Chairman & National Bonsai Foundation President Speak Out

By Jeanne Connelly, FONA Chairman; and Felix Laughlin, National Bonsai Foundation President. December 4, 2010
Ref: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/04/AR2010120403001.html?wprss=rss_print/metro

A treasure of D.C.'s spring at risk at the arboretum

By Jeanne Connelly and Felix Laughlin, Washington

Azalea
An azalea in bloom at the U.S. National Arboretum

Nothing says springtime in Washington like the cherry blossoms. Except perhaps azaleas in bloom at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Which explains why last week’s surprise announcement by the arboretum that it plans to destroy the most frequently visited section of the historic Azalea Collection and dismantle the entire National Boxwood Collection hit a horticultural nerve throughout the region. Countless fans, including members of the nonprofit Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) and National Bonsai Foundation (NBF), have expressed opposition to the decision to eliminate one of nature’s most magnificent and scientifically important spring displays.

The Azalea Collection has long been a landmark in Washington. The lesser known but nationally recognized Boxwood Collection is the most complete collection in the world.

In fact, it was the magic of the spring azalea displays that first prompted the arboretum, a U.S. Agriculture Department research and education facility, to open its doors to the public in 1954. Twenty-eight years later, gardeners, horticulturists, landscape designers and other supporters established FONA to raise money and awareness about the federal arboretum — much like FONZ supports the National Zoo. Over the years, FONA and NBF and their members, along with corporate partners, foundations and other stakeholders, have contributed millions of dollars in support of this 446-acre green space to which visitors flock to see not only the azaleas but also the world-famous National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns and many lesser-known gems such as the Gotelli Conifer Collection.

Given the draw of the azaleas and other treasures, the recent outpouring of support is hardly a surprise. What is a surprise — and a disappointment — is the arboretum’s shortsighted decision to eliminate these collections because of the loss of proceeds from a private trust

The money will not run out until more than a year from now, sufficient time to identify alternative funding to preserve these beloved collections. FONA has committed to help the arboretum explore ways to replace the lost funds. In turn, we call upon the arboretum to suspend its decision and consult with all stakeholders on preservation instead of destruction.

At the same time, this decision brings into sharp focus budget constraints the arboretum has faced for many years, and the pressing need to put this vital public asset on sound financial footing. With an eye toward the future, we call on Congress to hold a public hearing on the future of the arboretum and an alternate model for managing and operating the site that can provide financial sustainability for the long-term. Successful examples of public institutions that operate as public-private partnerships exist throughout our region; Wolf Trap, Ford’s Theater and Glen Echo Park come to mind.

We recognize that in these difficult economic times, public institutions need to tighten their belts and carefully prioritize how they spend their funds. However, an irrevocable act of destruction would not be in the best interest of the arboretum or the public. For almost 60 years, the U.S. National Arboretum has been a vital public asset, providing generations with the opportunity for learning as well as enjoyment. Our goal is to ensure that the azaleas and the arboretum’s many other treasures will continue to be an integral part of the Washington experience for residents — and visitors from across the region and around the world — for many years to come.

The writers are chairman of the board of directors of Friends of the National Arboretum and president of the National Bonsai Foundation, respectively.

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Azaleas and Boxwoods Still at Risk

cookFrom Aaron Cook; President, Azalea Society of America, December 8, 2010
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15566

Greetings All,

It has been an eventful couple of days. Just since the 1st of Dec., there have been many calls, e-mails, and articles about the situation at the National Arboretum. A new director has been appointed, and that is significant. I have nothing against Dr. Colien Hefferan. I hope we can establish a good relationship and work together to realize the full potential of the National Arboretum.

It is important to note that she was appointed to this position, and that her background is in Economics, not Horticulture. By making this move the powers that be are in effect making Scott more powerful, not less powerful as Dr. Hefferan will be deferring all the day-to-day management decisions to Scott. I have heard this from more than one person at the USDA.

In effect we are now looking at Scott as the de facto (director) of the U.S. National Arboretum.

This is a bad turn of events for all those who want to save the Azaleas. I have been offered a deal, which I declined. I was sent an e-mail that in affect said if I would go along with the decision to remove the boxwoods they would postpone any decision on the Azaleas. I told them in no uncertain terms. NO.

We need to keep the pressure on Scott until this is resolved. Keep calling, keep posting, keep pursuing every avenue available. DO NOT QUIT and DO NOT GIVE UP. Scott has said publicly that he believes this will all blow over and then they can quietly do whatever they want. In our last conversation I told him point blank that I would never let him avoid the negative publicity that his decision would generate. I also told him I would take before and after pictures to post if he did achieve his objective of removing the Azaleas.

He said I was trying to paint him and the Arboretum in a bad light. I replied that his decision had already beat me to it, and that he was only half right. It was his decision and he needs to accept that fact.

My Kindest Regards To All

Aaron

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Magnolia Plantation offers to collect cuttings if the unthinkable occurs.

Tom JohnsonFrom Tom Johnson, Director of Gardens at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and chairman of the propagation committee of the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance, December 12, 2010
Ref: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/dec/12/keep-heritageazaleas-aliveat-arboretum/

In an editorial in the Charleston, SC, Post and Courier, Tom Johnson stated:

"Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, along with the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance, has started an effort to save this azalea collection. But in the event that our efforts fail, we have requested that the destruction of the collection be postponed so we can take cuttings next summer to re-establish the collection in Charleston and at our 30 sister gardens around the country."

"It is unthinkable to destroy a popular collection of such beauty that has taken so many years to create. Contact our Congressional Delegation in Washington to enlist their help in saving the azaleas at the arboretum so we can pass their beauty to the next generation."

Here is the full text:

Post and Courier

Keep heritage azaleas alive at arboretum

BY TOM JOHNSON
Sunday, December 12, 2010

The U.S. National Arboretum in Beltsville, Maryland, has plans next summer to destroy several thousand azaleas because of cuts to the agency's budget.

The arboretum also has said that because many of the plants in the popular azalea collection can't be identified, they must go.

If these plants are uprooted it could mean the loss of some rare varieties of azaleas that might not be enjoyed by future generations of Americans.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, along with the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance, has started an effort to save this azalea collection. But in the event that our efforts fail, we have requested that the destruction of the collection be postponed so we can take cuttings next summer to re-establish the collection in Charleston and at our 30 sister gardens around the country.

If the arboretum does not want the azaleas, why not allow them to be put in our garden in Charleston, a city known worldwide for its preservation efforts?

There is a ray of hope. Last week the arboretum got a new director. Colien Hefferan has accepted the position. Numerous websites and articles are popping up around the country. A Save the Azaleas at the National Arboretum page is on Facebook and a humorous cartoon is on YouTube.

The arboretum touts the azalea collection it wants to destroy. Admirers come to the arboretum each spring "to witness one of Washington's premier spring attractions," according to the arboretum's website. "Thousands of azaleas cover the flanks of Mount Hamilton in a blaze of color. The first warm days bring out the flowers, and the slopes take on a surreal, almost luminescent glow."

The mature azaleas, many of which are more than 60 years old, cover an estimated three to six acres of the 446-acre arboretum. Space should not be an issue, and the azaleas are not overgrown or in decline.

If the arboretum destroys the plants, they will also destroy part of its history. The arboretum apparently has forgotten that the azalea collection was developed by its first director, Benjamin Y. Morrison. Morrison's massive and unequaled breeding project produced the first large flowered azaleas hardy enough to survive in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The arboretum has said it lost funding from a private donor who paid the salaries of two gardeners. However, neither of the privately funded positions involved the azaleas and boxwoods and perennials that also are slated for removal.

The arboretum has said the azaleas attract too many visitors and that creates problems. The arboretum, however, has several large parking areas, which for years has provided a shuttle service to the various attractions.

The arboretum has said the azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside are not well documented even though the Morrison breeding records still exist. However, volunteers in the area are making progress to identify the plants, and it seems to me that even unidentified plants still have merit.

Unlike taxonomists on the arboretum's staff, whose goal it is to identify plants, I am a gardener who highly values plants even though their lineage might be unknown.

It is unthinkable to destroy a popular collection of such beauty that has taken so many years to create. Contact our Congressional Delegation in Washington to enlist their help in saving the azaleas at the arboretum so we can pass their beauty to the next generation.

Tom Johnson is director of gardens at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and chairman of the propagation committee of the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance.

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Post and Courier

Good news in bloom: Magnolia can help save rare azaleas

BY TOM JOHNSON
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Azalea lovers across America received an early Christmas gift last week when the U.S. National Arboretum said it will allow Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to take cuttings from several thousands azaleas slated for destruction this summer.

Even though the arboretum has refused to change its plans, the legacy of Ben Morrison's work will be carried on to preserve rare varieties of azaleas for the future.

Morrison, the arboretum's first director, developed the garden's azalea collection. His massive and unequaled breeding project produced the first large flowered azaleas that could withstand colder temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Officials at the arboretum have said the azaleas will be uprooted in late summer because many of the plants in the popular collection can't be identified and cuts in funding have reduced the gardening staff.

Earlier this month, on behalf of Magnolia and the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance, I asked the arboretum that if the collection can't be saved we would take cutting to re-establish the collection at Magnolia and at our 30 sister gardens around the country.

Ramon Jordan, the arboretum's interim associate director, responded to my letter to Dr. Edward Knipling, administrator and head of agricultural research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In an e-mail Thursday, Jordan said: "I greatly appreciate your strong support for the (arboretum) and your interest in maintaining its collections.

"As you may know, however, within the next year USNA anticipates losing substantial long-standing private support for our gardens unit.

"We recognize, therefore, the possibility that the anticipated personnel shortage will affect our ability to preserve all of the gardens and collections at the arboretum's D.C. campus and thus require de-accessioning of some collections.

"Though among the most popular seasonal attractions at the National Arboretum, these azaleas are for the most part undocumented plant material for which we as principally a scientific organization cannot justify long-term maintenance with public funds and limited private support. According to the long-range plan, the azaleas of unknown pedigree (about 25 percent of the collection) would be removed, with some germplasm preserved and distributed, and the space they occupied replanted with documented azaleas.

"Moreover, it is certainly possible for the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to take, propagate, and preserve some of the azaleas on your grounds in Charleston, South Carolina, or possibly with other gardens in The Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance," Jordan said. "We appreciate this generous offer."

Now our work at Magnolia begins. After the arboretum's staff informs us of the best time to take the cuttings, a four-member team from Magnolia will travel to Washington between June and July to collect as many as 8,000 cuttings that we'll bring home to Charleston. This mammoth undertaking will put our rooting beds at capacity with just this collection.

We greatly appreciate the arboretum's offer. We also would like to thank our supporters around the country who contacted the arboretum in this effort to save these azaleas.

Tom Johnson is director of gardens at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and chairman of the propagation committee of the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance.

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From Dr. William L. Ackerman to Ms. Hefferan, Director, U.S. National Arboretum

Destruction of the Glenn Dale Azaleas-from Dr. William L. Ackerman

January 3, 2011

Dear Ms. Hefferan,

The decision by the National Arboretum (NA), to destroy the Glenn Dale Azaleas on Mt. Hamilton, has had devastating repercussions throughout the NA and the visiting public.

Ironically, one of the justifications for their removal is their overwhelming popularity with the visitors to the NA, during the April-May blooming season. The reasoning is that this overloads the NA's facilities. This contradicts one of the basic functions of an Arboretum, which is to grow many different trees and shrubs for study and display to the public. There should be a warning here. Any institution that ceases to serve its primary functions, will no longer justify its existence.

A perfect example of this is the institution for which these azaleas were named. That is, the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, MD.

I have a personal interest in both the azaleas in question and the U.S. Plant Introduction Station. I knew the late Ben Morrison, during his latter years, and was involved with the Morrison azaleas as grown at the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, when I was Horticulturist in Charge (1959-1974) prior to my transfer to the research staff at the NA.

I am only too well aware of the sad fate of the Glenn Dale Station due to the gradual outsourcing of its primary functions. .Let not the proposed destruction of the Glenn Dale azalea collection be the precursor of the decline of the Arboretum's commitment to its visiting public - one of its primary justifications for its existence.

Should you question what the slow decline of an institution's function (receipt and evaluation of the USDA plant explorer's plant collecting world wide), I suggest you visit the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, in Glenn Dale, MD, and see for yourself. I did two years ago. Its dilapidated buildings are no longer safe to enter.

During the time I was involved with the Glenn Dale Station, all plant material subject to quarantine, was required to pass through the station and be evaluated and released from quarantine. During its heyday of the 1960's and 1970's, we had three active virus indexing programs, one for stone fruits one for pomaceous fruits, and one for grapes. In addition, there was a sophisticated ornamental distribution program directed to state universities and nurserymen. In 1966, our staff consisted of 35 employees, including five research scientists.

Starting in the 1970's, the basic functions of the Station were taken over by others, beginning with the grape indexing being transferred to the West Coast. As the basic functions of the Station were gradually decreased, its staff was correspondingly reduced. The NA took it over for a while, for growing out test blocks of promising plant material by the research scientists at NA.

The most recent activity, to the now vacant facility, was the consideration by Prince George's County of Maryland to evaluate its use for developing it into a recreation park. Due to the economy, this has not progressed further.

I believe the various ornamental collections at the NA are its very lifeblood - without them its justification for its existence no longer is viable and it may well eventually follow the path of the Glenn Dale Station.

Please give thoughtful consideration to the decisions taking place at the NA.

Sincerely,

William L. Ackerman, Ph.D.
Research Plant Geneticist (retired)
U.S. National Arboretum

[Dr. Ackerman passed away on July 6, 2013. The Camelia Society of the Potomac Valley plans a tribute to Dr. Ackerman at their first meeting in the fall of 2013. His views were always valued and his legacy will be passed down to many future generations.]

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USDoS

U.S.-China Chinese Garden Project at the U.S. National Arboretum

Ref: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/01/154947.htm

Washington, DC
January 19, 2011

China GardenThe State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Department of Agriculture of the United States intend to cooperatively construct a Classical Chinese Garden as a gift from the Chinese people to the American people on approximately 12 acres within the boundaries of the United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. Upon completion, the U.S. National Arboretum will have sole ownership of the China Garden, and Chinese cultural events will take place onsite to enhance the traditional friendship between the Chinese people and the American people. The People’s Republic of China is to provide some 22 structures, classical Chinese art and furnishings, as well as the landscaping and rockeries, while the United States will provide site preparation and maintain the completed Garden. The National China Garden Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in early 2011 to raise funds for the project. China and the United States have recently taken the following steps on the China Garden:

The two countries agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America. Through this Memorandum, both countries expect to continue cooperation until completion of the Chinese Garden. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui will sign the memorandum of understanding on January 24, 2011. Madame Jiang Zehui, who is the Executive Director for the Chinese side on China Garden, will be present and witness the signing. [See follow-up story of the signing.]

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KCCI KCRA HearstTV KCWE KETV
4029 KITV KMBC KOAT KOCO
KQCA
KSBW
WAPT WBAL
WCVB WDSU
WESH WGAL
WISN WKCF
WLKY WLWT WMOR WMTW WMUR
WPBF WPTZ WTAE WXII WYFF

National Arboretum Plans To Axe Its Azaleas

Hearst TV reporter Sally Kidd interviewed azalea guru Don Hyatt and the former National Arboretum Director Ramon Jordan who approved the destroying of over 10,000 azaleas that the USDA bred and grew in the National Arboretum to provide hardy strains of evergreen azaleas. Almost every hardy evergreen azalea variety came from or descended from this group at the National Arboretum.

What is insane, is that these azaleas are maintained by volunteers, not paid employees. Destroying them will cost money, not save money. They are holding the azaleas hostage to get more money.

On January 20, 2011, most Hearst TV stations broadcast this 2-minute clip about the imminent demise of the azaleas at the National Arboretum,. Above is a low-resolution copy of the video clip. Below is a transcript of the video.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I am Sally Kidd at the National Arboretum where the proposal to cut down thousands of azaleas brings a public outcry. We'll explain what's going on coming up.

...

[The National Arboretum in Washington is considered a national treasure, a showplace with more than 400 acres of botanic gardens.

But the Arboretum is losing money, and now plans are in the works to chop down thousands of mature azaleas to save money.*]

The public outcry has been fierce, the azaleas are not only a huge attraction, they're also historically significant. [A group called "Save the Azaleas" is trying to stop the plan.*]

Every spring, this National Arboretum hillside comes alive with 40,000 azaleas in full bloom, bursting with color -- a show-stopping display that draws crowds from all over.

Don Hyatt has made the trip just about every year since the age of 5.

"To walk through those with the azaleas towering overhead and the branches swaying in the breeze. -- it's just, it's ethereal, it's just absolutely gorgeous," Hyatt said.

But times are tough; the Arboretum is losing crucial grant money.

"We are having trouble and we have been for years and it's finally come to the point that something has to be done," National Arboretum Interim Director Ramon Jordan said.

So directors have decided that some of the azaleas must go...and this summer, ten thousand will be destroyed, unless additional funding can be found.

"It's a travesty because it's not only a waste -- they're destroying history," Hyatt said.

The azaleas destined for removal were planted in 1947, part of a colossal breeding project unlike any other of its time.

"It was a hard decision and I frankly said three times no before I said yes we have to do this," Jordan said.

Jordan says the older azaleas, while high on aesthetic value, are low on scientific value because documentation records have been lost over time.

"You know, when a plant is that beautiful, I don't care," Hyatt said.

The Arboretum is searching for alternatives, but without additional money these historic blooms will get the axe.

Now the Arboretum says saving the azaleas will cost about $150,000. That will provide at least a year's worth of funding and give them time to look for a longer term funding source.

Reporting from Washington, I am Sally Kidd.

* Items in square brackets were in a published transcript but cut from the final video clip.

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USDA

China Garden to be Established at National Arboretum

Ref: http://blogs.usda.gov/2011/01/24/china-garden-to-be-established-at-national-arboretum/

Washington, DC
January 24, 2011

memoToday, I joined China’s Ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to construct a classical Chinese garden at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. This garden will illustrate the commitment our two countries have to horticulture, science and the arts and will serve as a testament to our countries’ celebrated cultural histories, delighting visitors for generations to come. I was pleased to join Ambassador Zhang and Madame Jiang Zehui to help turn this symbol of bilateral friendship into a reality. Madame Jiang Zehui is the executive director for the Chinese side for the China Garden.

Last week I had the opportunity to showcase a model of the garden to China’s President Hu during a luncheon with Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton. The China Garden project has its roots in a 2004 gift from the Government of China and represents an opportunity to build a permanent tribute to U.S.-China relations in our nation’s capital.

China’s rich flora and long history of garden development has had a profound influence on horticulture and garden design throughout the world. Chinese classical gardens are designed to represent a harmonious blending of man and nature. The China Garden will complement the Asian collections including the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum already found at the National Arboretum.

The People’s Republic of China is to provide some 22 structures, classical Chinese art and furnishings, as well as the landscaping and rockeries for the garden. Once completed, the U.S. National Arboretum will own the China Garden. It is expected to become a focal point for cultural activities as well as a vibrant link between the United States and China. As a living classroom, it will provide a venue ready for the development of cultural and educational activities, and celebrations of major events like the Chinese New Year and full moon festivals. [Also see State Department announcement.]

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U.S. National Arboretum Decision To De-Accession Selected Collections

by Harold Belcher

USDAFrom National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society February 2011 issue of Petal Tones
Ref: http://www.nationalcapitalgesneriads.org/petaltones/201102petaltones.pdf

Last November, the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) announced that a decision had been made to de-accession its Glenn Dale Hillside of its Azalea Collection on Mt. Hamilton, as well as its National Boxwood Collection and its Perennial Collection, both of which are on the Bladensburg Road side of the USNA. This decision was based on the loss of a long-standing financial support for the USNA Asian some cases, transplanting elsewhere on the USNA grounds. The Gardens Unit staff will document identified plants in the selected collections for propagation and, when practicable, shipment to other gardens, nurseries, and collections. The remaining plants will be removed, destroyed, and low- maintenance native trees or meadow plants will be planted to restore the areas. The Arboretum had long-term plans to remove nearly all of the undocumented azaleas (those plants that cannot be positively identified) on the Glenn Valley Collection from a private donor. Losing this financial support will require the USNA Gardens Unit to cut two gardener positions, which were funded by that private donor for its Asian Valley collection, in 2012. As a result of the loss of funding and the necessity of cutting two gardener positions, the USNA believes that it has insufficient personnel to maintain all of its gardens and collections and must now evaluate the best use of the Gardens Unit’s financial and personnel resources.
The Arboretum has begun this process so that it can be completed before the loss of the two privately funded positions in the Asian Valley Collection in 2012. The Gardens Unit staff, under the direction of Mr. Scott Aker, analyzed the USNA collections for de-accessioning by considering the scientific value Dale Hillside (about 20-25%, or about 2,000 mature plants, of the total azalea collection) so that they may be replaced with known Glenn Dale azalea introductions massed in large groups for visual impact. Unfortunately, the azaleas to be de- accessioned are the oldest and most majestic plants. The decision to de-accession the collection will expedite those plans. They will now shift to a fast- track removal of azaleas of unknown pedigree so the area is less of a maintenance burden. Most removals are expected to take place in the summer of 2011. The USNA rationale for de-accessioning the Glenn Dale Azalea Collection is that it is for the most part undocumented plant material for which they cannot justify the expense of long-term maintenance. This plan is to cut down the undocumented azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside and apply herbicide so that they cannot return. The plants that are removed will be (germplasm) of each collection, its educational and interpretive value, its aesthetic value and appeal to visitors, and the current level of stakeholder involvement/support for the collection. The collections selected for de-accessioning will be removed. Important germplasm within those collections will be preserved by taking cuttings, or in replaced by new identified rooted cuttings from their propagation program. However, replacing 60 year- old azaleas with rooted cuttings will leave a barren eyesore, highly subject to erosion, and will also provide favorable growing space for new invasive species in one of the most visible and frequently visited locations in the Arboretum.

The plants in National Boxwood Collection and its associated Perennial Collection will be completely and accurately inventoried. Selected plants on the inventory will be used for cuttings, propagation, and distribution of the resulting plants, or to form the basis for new plantings elsewhere in the Arboretum. Removal of plants would not take place until autumn or winter of 2011-2012. The National Boxwood Collection forms a beautiful green barrier from the heavy traffic on Bladensburg Road and contributes greatly to the tranquil ambiance of the USNA. The plan would entail the removal of every plant in this collection, leaving unobstructed views of the highway and allowing the sounds of the highway to intrude. Removing this collection and planting low- spring show while newly planted azaleas become established, and the de-accession of the National Boxwood Collection and Perennial Collections will not be necessary” and, “In the short-term, the arboretum will continue to examine other possible funding mechanisms.” In that letter, the Interim USNA Director also stated that although “some might argue for the simple abandonment of garden spaces when staff positions are lost, this is not a responsible approach. Abandonment is environmentally harmful because of the potential for invasive species to become entrenched. It is nearly impossible to recover such collections after just a few years of abandonment without considerable expense.” It should be noted that the USNA Azalea Collection was abandoned in the past and after years of neglect has been brought to its current state of restored beauty and health by the devoted efforts of the maintenance trees, which will take years to mature, will do little to maintain the Arboretum’s ambiance and attract visitors.

The Perennial Collection represents plants that most gardeners are familiar with and have in their gardens. It provides visitors with a stunning display from the tree peonies in early spring, daffodils and herbaceous peonies, and daylilies somewhat later. The collection provides visitors with obvious and subtle differences in flowers, fragrances, and colors. It should not be removed and replaced by a meadow.
The interim USNA Director responsible for this decision, in a letter to the President, National Capital Area Garden Clubs Inc., dated November 15, 2010, stated that “permanent sustained funding to support the minimum number of staff needed to develop and maintain their collections, but especially the boxwood and perennial collections and the azalea hillside, is the only viable way they can be saved. Should such funding become available, the replacement of undocumented azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside with Glenn Dale cultivars could be accomplished gradually, in a way that maintains the Curator and a staff of volunteers over the past 20 years. During that time, the Curator and her staff of volunteers have been able to positively identify numerous previously undocumented azaleas on the Glenn Dale Hillside. These efforts, if allowed to continue, will provide documentation for many more of the undocumented plants in the collection and preserve these beautiful plants. It is very difficult to understand how the future loss of those private funds can justify such a drastic decision. Several questions come to mind concerning the USNA decision to de-accession its collections. If the availability of funding is the only issue, why take such drastic, irrevocable action that once done cannot be reversed should funding become available?

How does the loss of funding for two positions in the Asian Valley Collection, which by the terms of that funding required those positions be used only to supplement the regular work and not to supplant government funds, or the two other full-time federal gardeners who regularly maintain that garden, justify the de-accessioning of three completely unrelated collections? With regard to the azalea collection, it is currently maintained by one full time position (the Curator) and a volunteer staff.

Were the stakeholders, such as the Azalea Society of America, American Daffodil Society, American Hemerocallis Society, American Peony Society, American Rhododendron Society, American Boxwood Society, Friends of the National Arboretum, and National Capitol Area Garden Clubs Inc., who have a long established relationship with and an interest in the Arboretum and its collections, contacted to obtain their input prior to this decision being made? It should be noted that these stakeholders have provided significant financial and volunteer support to the USNA over many years. In the past, the Arboretum’s Advisory Board, consisting of its stakeholders, would be consulted prior to taking action that would substantially alter its collections. The Arboretum needs to restore its Advisory Board so that future decisions will have input from its stakeholders.

If the criteria for evaluating potential collections for de-accessing were “its aesthetic value, appeal to visitors, and the current level of stakeholder involvement/support for the collection,” why were the Glenn Dale Hillside azaleas on Mt. Hamilton selected? The Azalea Collection, especially the Glenn Dale Hillside azaleas on Mt. Hamilton, which are one of the prime floral attractions in our Nation’s Capital, serve as the premier draw for the general public to visit the Arboretum in the spring, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The lovely mature azaleas, many of which are over 60 years old, occupy perhaps three to six acres of the 446-acre Arboretum. Those azaleas are not overgrown or in decline and there is no space issue. The USNA’s Glenn Dale azaleas are among the oldest and most spectacular specimens in the country. The Glenn Dale Hillside azaleas have considerable historical value as well and are of particular importance to the USNA. They were developed by its first Director, Benjamin Y. Morrison, and represent the top 454 selections of the 75,000 seedlings he raised during the development of Glenn Dale Azaleas. Dr. Morrison’s colossal breeding project has had no equal. It produced the first large-flowered azaleas created for the climactic conditions of the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly the Washington metropolitan area. They have proven hardy in the Mid-Atlantic region, and many of them are found in Mid-Atlantic gardens. It was the magic of the spring azalea displays on the Glenn Dale Hillside of Mt. Hamilton that first prompted the Arboretum to open its doors to the public in 1954. They are indeed a national treasure that should be preserved.

Those of us who would like to see the decision to de-accession the Glenn Dale Hillside of the Azalea Collection on Mt. Hamilton, the National Boxwood Collection, and the Perennial Collection at the Arboretum reversed, or at least reconsidered, are encouraged to express their concerns to Dr. Colien Hefferan, Director of the USNA. Dr. Hefferan’s contact information is:

Dr. Colien Hefferan, Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 245-4539
Fax: (202) 245-4574
E-mail: Colein.Hefferan@ars.usda.gov

Additional Contacts are:

Thomas Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
Jamie L. Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250
E-mail: writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Information about congressional representatives may be found through these links:
www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senator s_cfm.cfm
writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Please note that if you wish to write your Congressional representatives, they will receive your letter sooner if it is sent to their home district rather than their office in Washington, DC.

More information is available from Friends of the National Arboretum at www.fona.org or (202) 544- 8733 and online at www.savetheazaleas.org. If you would like to view the USNA collections, please visit usna.usda.gov.

On a lighter note, there is an interesting video about the Arboretum’s plans to de-accession a part of its Azalea Collection on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAMNSBPmmFg and a very interesting and informative video about the Arboretum’s Azalea Collection at www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS7L2Uhmsvg.

If you have trouble with any of the links, simply copy them and paste them into your browser.

Also see the update to this article.

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Hill Rag: National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit

Azalea decision may get a lucky break

February 1, 2011O'Brien

The Washington, DC, publication, Hill Rag, published a 3-page article on the National Arboretum and the changes it is going through and expects to go through. The article was written by Rindy O’Brien who was the Executive Director of the Friends of the National Arboretum, and believes it is the best open space on Capitol Hill.

The complete article is at http://www.hillrag.com/CCN_Website09/images/papers/HR/Feb/0211/pdfs/101-103_RAG_0211.pdf

It is an excellent article and worth reading in its entirety. However, for the sake of completeness in this site, I would like to quote here a portion entitled "Azalea decision may get a lucky break"

"In late fall, many gardeners and supporters of the National Arboretum were shocked to hear that the Arboretum staff was considering a plan to take out 10,000 mature azaleas on its famous wooded hill. This azalea collection typically draws more than 100,000 visitors to the arboretum over six weekends in the spring. The federally- funded institution has been struggling financially for years, and the proposed plan was a result of the Arboretum losing a private grant that had funded two gardeners for a number of years. Groups including the Friends of the National Arboretum pledged to continue to work to find other sources of money.

The azalea collection is considered by many in the area to be more spectacular than the Cherry Blossoms when they bloom in April and May. The collection covers more than seven acres with several thousand shrubs blooming at once. In addition to the azaleas, the plan also would eliminate the boxwood collection that is nearby to Mt. Hamilton’s azaleas. The American Boxwood Society reports that the collection is one of the best in the United States and features about 500 plants.

Fortunately, Dr. Hefferan, the new Director of the National Arboretum, has slowed down implementation of the plan to remove the azaleas. She wants to find a way to suspend the earlier directive. An announcement about the future of the azaleas should be forthcoming very soon.

Apparently, the public outcry over the idea of destroying or eliminating plant collections caught Department of Agriculture bureaucrats by surprise. Hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters to the Department by concerned and angry residents seems to have saved the azaleas and the hope is that a permanent funding solution can be found."

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Ramon Jordan: We Will Still De-Accession "Undocumented" Plants

From Ramon Jordan to Senator Webb, Virginia, February 2, 2011
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15933

USDA

February 2, 2011

... We also identify the need--regardless of our future budget situation--to de-accession portions of the extensive Glenn Dale Hillside azalea collection. Though among the most popular seasonal attractions at the National Arboretum, these azaleas are for the most part undocumented plant material for which we as principally a scientific organization cannot justify long-term maintenance with public funds and limited private support. According to the long-range plan, the azaleas of unknown pedigree (about 25 percent of the collection) would be removed--with some germplasm preserved and distributed--and the space they occupied replanted with documented azaleas. If funding or assistance does not become available, native trees or meadow plants will be planted to restore the area. As funding becomes available, we will use this space to plant pedigreed Glenn Dale azaleas, organized in a way that also will be aesthetically pleasing and make the most use of the (future) limited gardening staff availability. Most removals are expected to take place no sooner than late summer or early fall of 2011.

Ramon Jordan, Interim Associate Director, USNA

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National Arboretum's Unlabeled Plants

From Steve Henning; President of the Valley Forge Chapter, ARS, February 3, 2011
Ref: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/azaleas/message/15842

When National Arboretum Unit Leader, Scott Aker, disparaged the Glenn Dale hillside, he stated, "No labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can know its provenance beyond conjecture. This does not fit the rigorous standard we require for plant records."

Apparently his standards are far different than those of Ben Morrison who founded both the Glenn Dale Azaleas and the National Arboretum. Ben Morrison found some "unknown" plants of extreme merit and named some "unknown" plants. Here are some of Ben Morrison's favorite named unknowns:

Hatsushimo, old Kurume hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
Gibiyama, old Kurume hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
Yozakura, old Kurume or Satsuki hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
Ho-oden, old Kurume or Mucronatum hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
Malvatica, an unknown plant found in a shipment of Mucronatum from Japan used extensively
Epilogue, an undocumented but named Glenn Dale Azalea
Juneglow, a undocumented but named Glenn Dale Azalea

And, of course, named sports such as Grace Freeman are in a unique category of known but different.

Even though Ben Morrison realized that unlabeled plants still had intrinsic value, he kept precise records which still exist today including maps of what was planted where. So, although labels may not exist, records do exist. Even if records didn't exist, in this day of DNA analysis, nothing is unknown, it is just unlabeled.

One of the best Glenn Dale Azaleas of all time, Ben Morrison, was overlooked when Morrison named the Glenn Dale Azaleas and was named and registered after Morrison's death. There are other outstanding plants that haven't been named.

Morrison did one other thing that he documented in USDA Monograph No. 20, that Scott Aker doesn't appreciate. He intentionally planted his azaleas on Mt. Hamilton in the National Arboretum because "better air circulation as well as soil drainage is assured. A hilly site also assures good movement of soil moisture and tends to check late-summer growth normally, so that new wood is safely ripened." If the National Arboretum destroys all of the azaleas on Mt. Hamilton as it plans, it will be removing premier plants from the premier location.

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National Arboretum's Glenn Dale Azaleas Aren't Culls

Don Hyatt replies to Tony Avent's E-Newsletter

February 4, 2011

From Tony Avent's Plant Delights Nursery E-Newsletter, January 24, 2011:

"There has recently been a big uproar in the nation’s capital over a plan by the US National Arboretum to remove a section of the Glen Dale azalea display. Azaleas lovers across the country have launched an email campaign to prevent the arboretum staff from removing the azaleas. While I like azaleas as much as anyone, I have a different take on the issue. The azaleas in question are breeding rejects from the USDA program which produced the Glen Dale Series. The breeding work of the late Arboretum director, Ben Morrison, produced the release of 454 azalea cultivars. Do we really need more azaleas from a program that has yielded 454 named varieties? When most breeding programs are concluded, the culls (rejects) are typically discarded. For some reason, these culls were never discarded, and over the years folks have become emotionally attached to these plants and consequently are now protesting the plan to discard them. The land at the US National Arboretum is some of the most expensive land in the country and is not the place to maintain a collection of cull azaleas...no matter how nice they look for a couple of weeks in spring. My suggestion to concerned members of the Rhododendron Society and the general public is that they raise private money and pay for the plants to be moved to a nearby park, which has more space and is in an area which is not focused on genetically important collections. Perhaps then, the USNA can replant a complete, labeled collection of the named Glen Dale hybrids along with other important hybrids that can serve as a real reference collection instead of the mass of unlabeled, unnamed plants that exist there now."

HyattDon Hyatt's Reply:

I admire Tony as a plantsman and as a very entertaining speaker, but he clearly doesn’t know his facts in this matter. First, Benjamin Y. Morrison, the first Director of the National Arboretum, did NOT consider any of the plants he set out on Mt. Hamilton to be "culls." He raised 50,000 to 75,000 azaleas in a massive breeding project which was not conducted at the Arboretum but at the Plant Introduction Station located near Glenn Dale, MD. Morrison destroyed most of those plants, perhaps as many as 70,000 seedlings he considered to be rejects. He saved the best 1200 that he propagated and planned to further evaluate in the landscape. Those are the seedlings he planted at the National Arboretum. Yes, after 60-years, those azaleas may have lost their labels but that does not mean they cannot be identified and should be considered worthless. We have copies of his records so we know what the crosses were for the azaleas he planted there. He named 454 of them as his Glenn Dale hybrids.

During the past 20 years, the Azalea Curator has greatly expanded the azalea collection at the National Arboretum, trying to add as many of the named Glenn Dale azaleas to the garden as possible. Those can be used for comparison with plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside. She has also added known cultivars from most popular hybrid groups as well as new introductions from modern hybridizers. The azalea collection at the National Arboretum is probably the best at any public institution in the world. However, most gardeners also realize that young plants in gallon pots take a long time before they can give the same visual impact as a 60 year old specimen plant. There should be no rush to destroy those spectacular old Glenn Dale hybrids. They can be identified.

One of Morrison's goals in breeding was to produce large flowered azalea hybrids that would be hardy in more northern gardens. He used the tender Chinese azalea, R. simsii, extensively in his hybridizing program and it was a parent of the tender Southern Indian hybrids. A quick look at the parentage of the Glenn Dales will show that R. simsii or its variable sport 'Vittata Fortunei' was used in perhaps as many as one fourth of Morrison's crosses. Primary hybrids of those two azaleas are often very similar, blooming fairly early in the season and with similar flower characteristics. For instance, if one of those early blooming Glenn Dale azaleas has large pink flowers similar to 'Dream', 'Allure', or 'Roselight' then it is most likely a primary hybrid of R. simsii. If the flowers are basically white with lots of stripes in red or purple like 'Quakeress', 'Geisha', 'Cinderella', or even 'Ben Morrison', then it is a likely hybrid of 'Vittata Fortunei'. We should be able to identify most of those hybrids this spring.

Although established by an act of Congress in 1927, the U.S. National Arboretum was not really opened to the public until 1949. Part of that incentive was to showcase a gift of deciduous azaleas including Ghent, Knap Hill and Exbury varieties given by the people of the Netherlands in appreciation to the United States for its role in World War II. They selected a site at the Arboretum which they named the Azalea Valley, and that is where those plants were installed. At the same time, Morrison decided to landscape the hillside above that site with the best of his Glenn Dale hybrids. He set out 20 plants of each of his best cultivars in rows on Mt. Hamilton. I remember seeing that Glenn Dales and the Azalea Valley for the first time when I was only 5 years old. It was magnificent, and one of my earliest and most vivid childhood memories.

It is true that the National Arboretum has been under funded for much of its existence. At times, some collections including the azaleas were severely neglected. Sadly, the only thing left of the azaleas given by the Netherlands is the sign at the overlook to the Azalea Valley. Those glorious deciduous azaleas died many years ago, and the area has become like most unattended land, a tangled mess of invasive alien weeds and vines. However, Morrison’s Glenn Dale azaleas on the hillside behind that display survived despite periods of neglect and still bloom beautifully every year. The planting has been restored by hard work from the Curator and numerous volunteers over many years. I have often wished that the Azalea Valley could be restored to its former glory, too.

If Morrison were alive today, he would probably agree that he named too many Glenn Dale azaleas. What is often overlooked is that he planted those azaleas on the hillside in 1947 but then retired in 1951. That was not much time to evaluate the ruggedness of his new hybrids. Some of the named Glenn Dales clearly did not survive on that hill but can be still found in gardens of azalea collectors. If Morrison were able to review his plants today, I suspect he might have a different list of favorites, and some of those would be forms he did not choose to name the first time.

Yes, some of the most valuable plants on the Glenn Dale Hillside are actually some of the unnamed azaleas, plants that after all this time have proven themselves better and more robust than many of the named forms. Those azaleas have stood the test of time. They have survived difficult winters and periods of severe heat and drought with little or no care and still look beautiful. One of those unnamed Glenn Dale seedlings was named by Dr. John Creech, the third Director of the Arboretum, to honor its creator. He called it 'Ben Morrison.' We do not know its parentage either, but it is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular of the Glenn Dale series.

Tony Avent implies that the land is scarce at the Arboretum, but that is not true either. The Arboretum has 446 acres, and much of it is not being used at this time. The Glenn Dale Hillside destined for destruction occupies a mere 6 to 8 acres of that land, and is the primary tourist attraction every spring. Garden displays in the Washington DC area are scarce, and the azalea display at the Arboretum is one of the most cherished, second only to the Cherry Blossoms.

There are many other concerns I have about the Arboretum’s recent actions. Not only have they decided to cut down the original Glenn Dale azaleas, but they are have decided to destroy some of its other premiere collections. Why are they planning to obliterate the National Boxwood Collection, one of the finest and best documented in the world? Boxwood are becoming increasingly important landscape shrubs since they are not eaten by deer. The associated perennial collections including the daffodils, daylilies, and peonies are also scheduled for destruction. These plants are well labeled, too. There must be another reason for their actions.

I am fully aware that government officials do not always tell us the full story. In the interview with Hearst Television, Dr. Jordan told the reporter that the Arboretum needed $150,000 to delay the destruction of the azaleas for one year. I do not see the connection. It will cost money to cut down those azaleas and haul away the debris. It will take money to deal with soil erosion after they denude the hillside. It will cost virtually nothing to leave them alone. Here is a link to the interview one of Hearst's Boston stations:
http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/26562886/detail.html

I was also surprised to see that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui signed an agreement on January 24 to install a new 12-acre Chinese Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum. It will have 22 structures, some landscaping, and will be used to stage Chinese cultural events. The Peoples Republic of China will build the garden and its structures, but the Arboretum will provide site preparation and staffing. This garden was proposed perhaps a decade ago but was not implemented due to lack of funding. If funding is scarce, why would they agree to this new garden that will require more resources? Is this the real reason behind the decision to destroy so many established American collections so they can reassign staff to the Chinese Garden? Here is that press release:
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/01/154947.htm

The situation at the National Arboretum is certainly complex and there are likely other factors involved in the decision process that we still do not know. I have carefully reviewed the evidence to date and see no merit in their decision to destroy so many world-class plant collections. The majority of gardeners in our region seem to be in agreement. I am very surprised at Tony Avent's position to support their removal.

Tony Avent revises his comments: Plant Delights Nursery E-Newsletter, February, 2011

Last month, I wrote about the controversy at the US National Arboretum, where senior garden staff had decided to discard the azaleas on the Mt. Hamilton hillside at the arboretum. Well, as is often the case, there was more than met the eye and I thank everyone who wrote to share more detailed information about the situation. As it turned out, the arboretum gardens staff had also decided to de-accession (a botanical word for eliminate) several other plant collections including the boxwood collection, the species daylily collection, and the daffodil collection. Bizarrely, these decisions were made without consulting with pertinent stakeholders (a government term for interested parties who don’t work for the government) and even their own USDA researchers, some of whom use the collections in their work.

On the azalea hillside, our friend Don Hyatt of the Azalea Society tells me the azaleas slated for removal are actually not culls from the Glen Dale breeding program, which is a somewhat different situation which I addressed in my last newsletter. Don says the hillside includes both released plants whose tags were lost and more hybrids planted out for evaluation. If so, then the arboretum should work with the Azalea (Rhododendron) Society to evaluate the collections, re-label where possible, and then decide which plants should stay and which should go. I still have the same question...do we really need more than 454 Glen Dale azaleas...of which 312 were selected and named from the original 1000 selections planted on the Arboretum’s hillside plantings? How many of these turned out to be good enough to be widely grown...certainly not 454?. As a plant breeder, I cannot imagine naming more than a handful of truly worthwhile and distinctive plants from 1000 initial selections...certainly not 454 cultivars. I would hope that any further named releases from the hillside would be far more judicious.

Part of the problem with some of the collections targeted for removal is that they draw little interest from large numbers of the visiting gardening public. In the case of each of these collections (other than the azaleas), they are isolated and not incorporated well into with other collections. How many of you who visit the arboretum ever spend time in the boxwood collection? This is actually the National Arboretum’s only NAPCC (similar to the UK National Plant Collections) national collection. I will admit to spending over half a day in the boxwood garden one winter many years ago, and I found it amazing. I’ve been on a crusade for years to get folks to realize there are few evergreen plants better in the woodland garden than boxwoods. Yes, boxwoods are not full sun plants, and are much happier growing among hostas and ferns...and no, they never need pruning. In my opinion, the arboretum would do much better to re-arrange the collections and add other plants to draw visitors into these neglected parts of the garden.

So, why the rush to discard important plant collections? Supposedly, this is a budget decision in response to losing two gardener positions. Interestingly, this happens at the same time as the arboretum announced plans for a new 22-acre Chinese Garden. If you think this is a new problem, think again. When the Arboretum’s world-renown holly breeder, Gene Eisenbeiss passed away in 1997, the Holly Society of America pleaded with the Arboretum to save his unparalleled collection of 400 ilex species. Those pleas fell on deaf ears and the collections were bulldozed. As it turned out, there were those within USDA that felt the world didn’t need another holly. This combined with Gene’s dyslexic plot maps and overgrown collections were enough to justify a major deaccessioning. Like the boxwoods, I spent a good bit of time in the holly collections when Gene was alive. While I’m all for bulldozing culls after a breeding program ends, cooperating with the stakeholders would have undoubtedly saved some valuable germplasm that is now lost. Fortunately, a couple of Gene’s hollies managed to escape before the destruction, including a plant now known as Ilex ‘Cherry Bomb’, which is possibly one of the finest evergreen hollies on the market today. We also grow a compact, hardy form of Ilex chinensis, which still needs to be named, that was salvaged from Gene’s collection.

As the redheaded stepchild of the US Department of Agriculture, the US National Arboretum has long had funding problems. The Congress approves the budget of the USDA, which then doles out portions of that budget to its divisions, which include the arboretum. I remember visiting a couple of years ago to find all the turf at the arboretum nearly knee-high. Some bright bureaucrat had decided that to save money, they would outsource the grass mowing and only do it on a set schedule, regardless of when the grass actually needed mowing. Public outcry finally brought that disaster to a halt. The recent public response to the proposed plant removal was another great exercise of how our system of government (by the people) is supposed to work. Also, in response to the azalea fiasco, the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) announced a $1,000,000 gift to the arboretum to start an endowment to help preserve the collections slated for removal.

To address the recent public relations fiasco, the USDA has also appointed a new director, Dr. Colien Hefferan. Dr. Hefferan is known in USDA circles as a “fixer”...one who can re-orient the arboretum, study alternative funding sources, and reconnect with both its own researchers and its stakeholders. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Hefferan was director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly the Cooperative State Education Extension Research Service), and before that, an adjunct assistant professor of behavioral economics at Penn State. To that end, Dr. Hefferan has established a feedback site on the Arboretum’s collection policy that you can find here. We encourage everyone to offer their comments about the direction of the arboretum.

I also encourage everyone who hasn’t spent time at your National Arboretum to do so when you find yourself in our nations capital.

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Friends of the National Arboretum Announces Endowment & Major Donation

From Janice L. Kaplan, Friends of the National Arboretum, February 14, 2011
Press Release: http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2011/02/usna-azalea-and-boxwood-collections-get.html

FONA

February 14, 2011, JaniceLKaplan@aol.com

FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM ANNOUNCES MAJOR DONATION

WASHINGTON, DC (February 14, 2011)—A $1 million donation to Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) will establish an endowment to help preserve the Azalea and Boxwood Collections at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit organization announced today. FONA will launch a major fundraising campaign this spring to raise the additional $1 million needed to maintain the treasured collections into the future.

The Azalea Collection has long been a landmark in Washington. The lesser known but nationally recognized Boxwood Collection is the most complete collection in the world.

FONA’s announcement coincides with the Arboretum’s public statement that it is suspending an earlier decision to eliminate the collections, due to the loss of proceeds from a private trust. A final decision about the future of the collections will be made later this year.

In her announcement, the Arboretum’s new director, Colien Hefferan, said: “FONA’s efforts in support of the Arboretum pave the way for us to work toward a new, vibrant future for this treasured place.” Dr. Hefferan said she is planning to meet with key stakeholders later this spring to discuss the future of the collections. The Arboretum is also soliciting feedback from the public through its Web site.

FONA Board of Directors Chairman Jeanne Connelly applauded the Arboretum’s announcement saying: “We are delighted that Dr. Hefferan has listened to the Arboretum’s constituents and are heartened by the willingness of the Arboretum’s new leadership to engage the public in an open discussion about decisions relating to its collections.”

“At the same time,” she added, “we are hopeful that funding from this major donation, along with additional support raised in the coming months, will ensure these popular and important collections will be enjoyed by future generations.”

Writing Dec. 5 in the Washington Post, Connelly and National Bonsai Foundation (NBF) President Felix Laughlin said the Arboretum’s decision “to destroy the most frequently visited section of the historic Azalea Collection and dismantle the entire National Boxwood Collection hit a horticultural nerve throughout the region. Countless fans, including members of FONA and NBF, have expressed opposition to the decision to eliminate one of nature’s most magnificent and scientifically important spring displays.”

Horticultural experts and groups including the Azalea Society of America, the American Boxwood Society, the American Daffodil, Hemerocallis and Rhododendron societies, along with Garden Club of America and National Garden Clubs Inc. galvanized community response and led strong opposition to the Arboretum’s earlier decision by creating a “Save the Azaleas” Web site and letter-writing campaign.

Major Donation

The $1 million donation—the largest single donation in FONA’s history—was made anonymously by friends in honor of prominent attorney Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. and Lila Sullivan, longtime residents of the Washington area. “This generous donation, offered in the Arboretum’s hour of greatest need, reflects not only the donor’s passion for this national treasure, but also confidence that the Arboretum leadership will make sound decisions relating to the collections in the future,” said Kathy Horan, executive director of FONA.

“FONA recognizes that these are difficult economic times and all government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, will face significant budget cuts in the coming years,” added Connelly. “That is why it is important for private partners to step in to protect one of the nation’s most valuable treasures and one of Washington, D.C.’s most important green spaces.”

“In the short term, we hope to save the Azalea and Boxwood Collections. Over time, our broader goal is to work with the Arboretum and Department of Agriculture leadership to develop a plan for the long-term sustainability of the Arboretum,” Connelly said. In addition to the azaleas and boxwoods, the Arboretum houses other world-class gardens and collections including the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum and the Asian Collections which form a beautiful garden swath leading to the Anacostia River, as well as the Gotelli conifer collection, Fern Valley native plant collection with shaded paths and wooden walkways that seem a world away from the urban metropolis that surrounds the Arboretum, the two-and-a-half acre National Herb Garden and the Washington Youth Garden.

Located 10 minutes from the U.S. Capitol, the National Arboretum is a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility and a living museum. Admission is free. Founded in 1982, FONA supports research and educational projects at the Arboretum, as well as the gardens and collections. Over the years, FONA, NBF and their members, along with corporate partners, foundations and other stakeholders, have contributed millions of dollars in support of this 446-acre green space.

Further information is available from FONA, www.fona.org

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Tom Schuetz: bru-ha-ha at the National Arboretum

From Susquehanna Valley Chapter, American Rhododendron Society, March 2011 Newsletter, President's Message
Ref: http://www.susquehannavalleychapterars.com/newsletters/2011/March%202011%20newsletter.pdf

SchuetzSome of you may be aware of the bru-ha-ha that the National Arboretum created in Washington DC by declaring that the mass azalea plantings on Mt. Hamilton would be cut down. This is an issue with which Steve Henning (see his web site dedicated to the issue at http://savetheazaleas.org/ ) has been very active on the internet in rallying ARS members to fight the situation. I have asked Peg Van Patten of the Princeton Chapter ARS if I could borrow her write-up on the problem. It follows:

For those of you who may have somehow missed hearing about the planned destruction of both the original Glenn Dale azaleas, as well as the arboretum’s famed boxwood collection, here is a brief summary taken from Don Hyatt's Potomac Valley newsletter: In early November, we learned some devastating news. The National Arboretum announced at a staff meeting that all of the original Glenn Dale azaleas on Mt. Hamilton at the Arboretum would be cut down in 2011 and their stumps painted with herbicide. The approximately six-acre site was planted in 1947 by the Arboretum’s first Director, Ben Morrison. These azaleas have provided one of the most spectacular floral displays in our nation’s capital for over 60 years.

People could not believe what they had heard and contacted the Arboretum, assuming this was some kind of cruel hoax. Scott Aker, the Gardens Unit Director [and apparently the prime mover behind this arbitrary and capricious scheme] confirmed our worst fears, and the Interim Director, Dr. Ramon Jordan, backed up his decision. Sadly, a big problem at the Arboretum is that years ago USDA did away with their official Advisory Board which provided oversight over major decisions of this sort, as well as expert opinion. Scott Aker is free to do what he wants.

The Glenn Dale Hillside is not the only targeted collection Aker has in his crosshairs. The Arboretum announced that they planned to cut down the National Boxwood Collection, as well as the associated Perennial Collections including Daffodils, the Daylilies, and the Peonies. The Boxwood Collection is also considered a national treasure and the most complete and well documented reference collection in the world.

FONA, the Friends of the National Arboretum, an organization with a Board of Directors made up of well-known business leaders, attorneys, and civic organizations [including an Honorary Board with members of Congress and even former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Conner] has strongly denounced the proposal to destroy these rare plant collections, and has sent letters opposing this senseless plan. Believe it or not, FONA, a major supporter of the Arboretum, was never consulted in the decision making process until after the fact. Has their outrage stopped Aker and his cohorts? Apparently, not.

One of the main reasons Aker gives for his plans to destroy the gardens concerns the loss of funding from a private trust which annually provided $110,000 for two gardeners. These funds will no longer be available as of February 2012. In response FONA wrote in their letter to the Interim Director of the Arboretum, Dr. Ramon Jordan, “We believe that the decision [to destroy the collections] will cause irreparable harm that could not be undone if additional funds were later found. . . . Therefore, we cannot understand how the future loss of these funds can justify such a drastic and irrevocable decision affecting other collections.” [Emphasis added. Translated, once something’s done, it can’t be undone. Interestingly enough, the Arboretum was given $9 million in federal stimulus money to build additional public toilets for the tens of thousands who visit every year including the huge crowds that come to see the azaleas. Ed. note]
The bottom line - you and I are the owners of the National Arboretum, not Scott Aker alone. This is our garden, the people’s garden. – and as such we have a right and a responsibility to speak up and say what happens to America’s best-known garden.

The Arboretum was developed over the years by distinguished scientists and directors such as Ben Y. Morrison, Dr. Henry Skinner, Dr. John Lewis Creech, Dr. Henry Cathey, and Dr. Thomas Elias, whose purpose and dedication is summed up in History of the National Arboretum. Their goals were: ! To popularize plant knowledge by establishing a close affiliation with garden clubs nursery
associations, botanical societies, and schools;

In an updated version of these noble goals, The National Arboretum’s Mission Statement which can be found on the “facts page” at the Arboretum’s website states that the Mission is “To serve the public need for scientific research, education, and gardens that conserve and showcase plants to enhance the environment.” Maybe we need to remind our elected officials of this.

What can you do? If you agree that Scott Aker’s decision to destroy the collections at the National Arboretum is wrong, that his reasons are specious at best, you can write a simple letter of protest to your Senators, Congressmen, the USDA, or to FONA. The letters need not be complicated or convoluted, but perhaps just a simple ”Stop the madness; save all the collections at the National Arboretum.”

Since the above was written, just a few days ago, everything changed and the following news release was generated:

“FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM ANNOUNCES MAJOR DONATION

WASHINGTON, DC (February 14, 2011)—A $1 million donation to Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) will establish an endowment to help preserve the Azalea and Boxwood Collections at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit organization announced today. FONA will launch a major fundraising campaign this spring to raise the additional $1 million needed to maintain the treasured collections into the future.

The Azalea Collection has long been a landmark in Washington. The lesser known but nationally recognized Boxwood Collection is the most complete collection in the world.

FONA’s announcement coincides with the Arboretum’s public statement that it is suspending an earlier decision to eliminate the collections, due to the loss of proceeds from a private trust. A final decision about the future of the collections will be made later this year.

In her announcement, the Arboretum’s new director, Colien Hefferan, said: “FONA’s efforts in support of the Arboretum pave the way for us to work toward a new, vibrant future for this treasured place.” Dr. Hefferan said she is planning to meet with key stakeholders later this spring to discuss the future of the collections. The Arboretum is also soliciting feedback from the public through its Web site.

FONA Board of Directors Chairman Jeanne Connelly applauded the Arboretum’s announcement saying: “We are delighted that Dr. Hefferan has listened to the Arboretum’s constituents and are heartened by the willingness of the Arboretum’s new leadership to engage the public in an open discussion about decisions relating to its collections.”

“At the same time,” she added, “we are hopeful that funding from this major donation, along with additional support raised in the coming months, will ensure these popular and important collections will be enjoyed by future generations.”

Writing Dec. 5 in the Washington Post, Connelly and National Bonsai Foundation (NBF) President Felix Laughlin said the Arboretum’s decision “to destroy the most frequently visited section of the historic Azalea Collection and dismantle the entire National Boxwood Collection hit a horticultural nerve throughout the region. Countless fans, including members of FONA and NBF, have expressed opposition to the decision to eliminate one of nature’s most magnificent and scientifically important spring displays.”

Horticultural experts and groups including the Azalea Society of America, the American Boxwood Society, the American Daffodil, Hemerocallis and Rhododendron societies, along with Garden Club of America and National Garden Clubs Inc. galvanized community response and led strong opposition to the Arboretum’s earlier decision by creating a “Save the Azaleas” Web site and letter-writing campaign.

Major Donation

The $1 million donation—the largest single donation in FONA’s history—was made anonymously by friends in honor of prominent attorney Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. and Lila Sullivan, longtime residents of the Washington area. “This generous donation, offered in the Arboretum’s hour of greatest need, reflects not only the donor’s passion for this national treasure, but also confidence that the Arboretum leadership will make sound decisions relating to the collections in the future,” said Kathy Horan, executive director of FONA.

“FONA recognizes that these are difficult economic times and all government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, will face significant budget cuts in the coming years,” added Connelly. “That is why it is important for private partners to step in to protect one of the nation’s most valuable treasures and one of Washington, D.C.’s most important green spaces.”

“In the short term, we hope to save the Azalea and Boxwood Collections. Over time, our broader goal is to work with the Arboretum and Department of Agriculture leadership to develop a plan for the long-term sustainability of the Arboretum,” Connelly said. In addition to the azaleas and boxwoods, the Arboretum houses other world-class gardens and collections including the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum and the Asian Collections which form a beautiful garden swath leading to the Anacostia River, as well as the Gotelli conifer collection, Fern Valley native plant collection with shaded paths and wooden walkways that seem a world away from the urban metropolis that surrounds the Arboretum, the two-and-a-half acre National Herb Garden and the Washington Youth Garden.

Located 10 minutes from the U.S. Capitol, the National Arboretum is a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility and a living museum. Admission is free. Founded in 1982, FONA supports research and educational projects at the Arboretum, as well as the gardens and collections. Over the years, FONA, NBF and their members, along with corporate partners, foundations and other stakeholders, have contributed millions of dollars in support of this 446-acre green space.

Further information is available from FONA, www.fona.org or (202) 544-8733"

Editors comment: I am gratified that the threat of destruction of major collections at the National Arboretum has been averted.

I am appalled that the powers-that-be who run the arboretum thought that they could (and actually did) blackmail the public into providing additional funding. Maybe this is the new paradigm of how government works. I, for one, hope it never occurs again and I would be not be the least concerned if those involved in the initial decisions to destroy the plantings lost their jobs.

Tom Schuetz

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Update: U.S. National Arboretum

by Harold Belcher

USDAFrom National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society March 2011 issue of Petal Tones
Ref: http://www.nationalcapitalgesneriads.org/petaltones/201103petaltones.pdf

This article is a follow-up to the article entitled “US National Arboretum Decision to De-accession Selected Collections” that was published in the February issue of Petal Tones.

When the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) announced its intention to de-accession the Glenn Dale Hillside of its Azalea Collection on Mt. Hamilton and its National Boxwood Collection and its Perennial Collection both of which are on the Bladensburg roadside of the Arboretum there was a tremendous outpouring of support to retain those collections. The plant societies that had been involved in the support and maintenance of those collections over the years, other plant societies and local garden clubs that have an interest in, and an established relationship with, the USNA and the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) reached out to their members, elected representatives, senior management at the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service, and members of the business and local community to enlist their support for maintaining the affected collections and to secure funding for those collections into the future.

As a direct result of the efforts of those dedicated groups and individuals, FONA has been able to secure a private donation which will be used exclusively to fund the maintenance of those collections and the USNA has suspended its plans to de-accession the three collections.

On February 14, 2011, FONA announced that it had received a $1 million donation that it will use to establish an endowment to help preserve the Azalea and Boxwood collections at the USNA. The $1 million donation, the largest single donation in
FONA’s history, was made anonymously by friends
in honor of prominent attorney Brendan Sullivan Jr., and Lila Sullivan, longtime residents of the Washington area. “This generous donation, offered in the hour of the Arboretum’s greatest need, reflects not only the donor’s passion for this national treasure, but also confidence that the Arboretum leadership will make sound decisions relating to the collections in the future” said Kathy Horan, Executive Director of FONA. In that announcement, FONA’s Board of Directors Chairman, Jeanne Connelly, added “FONA recognizes that these are difficult economic times and all government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, will face significant budget cuts in the coming years. That is why it is important for private partners to step in to protect one of the nation’s most valuable treasures and one of Washington, D.C.’s most important green spaces.”

Later the same day, in a prepared statement, the USNA Director, Dr Colien Hefferan, wrote “The U.S. National Arboretum is suspending actions to remove the Glenn Dale Azaleas from our extensive collection of Azaleas, as well as the National Boxwood and Perennial Collections subject to further discussions with stakeholders about the process and criteria for decisions about our collections. Although the resource challenges facing the Arboretum which initially led to these decisions are still very real and in need of a solution, we want to reassess our current resource use and opportunities to expand private support before we reduce or eliminate collections the public so values.”

Dr. Hefferan also wrote “We have heard and appreciate the public outpouring of comments about de-accessioning the Glenn Dale Azaleas and the Boxwood and perennial collections. Managing resources through difficult times is challenging, but with the advice and guidance of our many stakeholders and colleagues we hope to develop an effective and well-understood policy for implementing decisions about our collections, as well as innovative approaches to developing new resources to sustain and support the Arboretum.”

The Arboretum has established a new comments box on their web site at http://usna.usda.gov/ to solicit guidance from the public and stakeholders about the process and criteria that the USNA uses regarding decisions about their collections, and for their ideas for resource development to maintain the collections and programs at the Arboretum. The comments box is under the “Arboretum Information” tab. Dr. Hefferan wrote “Please share your ideas and recommendations regarding these issues by responding to the questions we have posted in our new comment box on this web site. We are eager to add your ideas to our decision-making processes. Over the next month, we also will be seeking more structured guidance from both horticultural and arboretum professionals, and from stakeholder groups. I hope that both the process of gathering this guidance and the ideas gleaned, help us to formulate and implement a collections policy at the USNA which is both enduring and well understood by the public.” In view of recent events, the stakeholder’s meeting should be quite lively.

Jeanne Connelly applauded the Arboretum’s announcement saying “We are delighted that Dr. Hefferan has listened to the Arboretum’s constituents and are heartened by the willingness of the Arboretum’s new leadership to engage the public in an open discussion about decisions relating to its collections.”

This spring, FONA will launch a major fundraising campaign to raise an additional $1 million needed to maintain these treasured collections into the future. Hopefully, other private partners, such as plant societies and their members, stakeholders, local garden clubs and individuals, will step forward to help FONA to reach its goal. Over the years, FONA has provided substantial funding and support to the Arboretum for the maintenance of its collections. Plant societies, their members, other stakeholders as well as individuals have volunteered to work in the Arboretum’s collections thereby reducing some of the need for Federal funding.

Due to deteriorating economic conditions the likelihood of additional Federal funding for the Arboretum and its collections is decreasing. Please consider making a donation to FONA, or volunteering to work in one of its collections or in an administrative capacity. If you choose to make a monetary donation to FONA, consider earmarking it for the endowment for the preservation of the Arboretum’s Glenn Dale Azalea Collection on Mt. Hamilton and its National Boxwood Collection and its Perennial Collection. Further information is available from FONA at www.fona.org or (202) 544- 8733, and www.savetheazaleas.org . If you would like to view the USNA Collections, please visit http://usna.usda.gov/ .

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Jeanne Connelly: Support your local arboretum - the U.S. National

From Jeanne Connelly, Chairman of the Board, Friends of the National Arboretum, March 4, 2011
Ref: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/04/AR2011030406565.html

March 4, 2011

In her March 1 column, "Azaleas are nice, but don't forget more critical needs," Petula Dvorak pointed out that our region has many worthy causes. I couldn't agree more.

Each cause has its supporters. In our case, one donor made a generous contribution in support of the endangered azalea and boxwood collections. If an additional $1 million can be raised from the public, these iconic collections can be preserved for generations.

The azalea collection is one of the attractions - along with the National Herb Garden, the historic National Capitol Columns and the world's most comprehensive bonsai museum - that have drawn millions of visitors to this 446-acre green space since it opened to the public in 1959.

Don't take my word for it, however. To quote one Post columnist: "There is nothing quite like leaving the snarl of downtown Washington traffic, the dusty car lots, the rusty garages and industrial nastiness of the District's Northeast gateway, and arriving at the U.S. National Arboretum. Yes, that bucolic green space behind the long fence on New York Avenue. It's gorgeous, like visiting an Umbrian countryside, a Japanese garden, a Provencal herb plot or a primordial fern grotto. It's like stepping inside a Monet or a Hokusai. Exhale."

That columnist, writing in April, was Petula Dvorak.

Jeanne Connelly, Washington

The writer is chairman of the board of the Friends of the National Arboretum.

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Friends of the National Arboretum on Facebook

From: Friends of the National Arboretum, March 4, 2011
Ref: http://www.facebook.com/FONArboretum

Be sure to join the FONA FaceBook page to stay updated about FONA's Spring events and Save the Azaleas Campaign!

FONArboretum


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National Arboretum hosts Stakeholders Meeting at National Arboretum

USDA

March 10, 2011
Ref: transcript is being prepared by USDA

[The following is from notes by Don Hyatt, edited by Steve Henning]

New National Arboretum Director, Dr. Hefferan, welcomed everyone, and then introduced the facilitator, Dr. Sharon Drumm of USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Other staff members present included Dr. Ramon Jordan, Scott Aker, Debbie Cicala, Nadine Hiers, Nancy Luria, Gayle Wistler, and Margaret Pooler. About 40 people (stakeholders) showed up from the various societies.

We started off with some longer presentations by three people who were part of a panel.

Pam Allenstein of the North American Plant Consortium was first, and she gave a PowerPoint presentation that seemed to focus on policies for living collections... the mission of the organization, core values, strategic direction with obvious resource constraints, etc. She included discussions about the purpose of plants in a collection and spoke about things such as whether the focus should be for research or just a display of pretty flowers, how long plants should be maintained, how does one establish priorities, and who should be involved in making decisions. She went through a number of reasons for de-accessioning collections including things like plants are dead, they are invasive, commercial availability, if they have significance as a specimen, and if they lacked documentation.

Holly Shimizu who is Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Gardens was next and spoke about how she has to struggle with limited resources. She has to decide whether to err on the side of preserving a unique collection or be more concerned about a pretty display. She did mention the importance of "Heritage Plants" and giving priority those. She gave a very thoughtful presentation, and reflected on her appreciation for Dr. Creech when she served as curator of the Herb Garden at the National Arboretum.

Robert Dolibois of the American Nursery and Landscape Association spoke next and discussed the importance of horticulture in the US since it is a $150 billion industry. He seemed to focus on the theme, "Right plant, right place." In other words, people should be growing plants that do not require lots of care. He did emphasize that when plants get overgrown and straggly, they should be removed and replaced. He made a distinction whether a collection should be a "library" that is kept current with some classics but new additions to maintain its vigor, or should it be a "museum" with old relics.

After the first hour with the panel presentations, the people in the audience were allowed to get up and express their opinions. Due to the number of people, we each had a three-minute time limit.

Leslie Zupan from Camellia Society of the Potomac Valley led off, and she said she just wanted to know what the collections policy at the Arboretum was because plants just suddenly disappear the Camellia Collection and there is no explanation. Nobody seemed to have an answer for that. They have been frustrated because they would schedule a clean up session one week, and then come back a few weeks later to see that some plants they just groomed and cared for were now marked to be de-accessioned. A very sore point was about a beautiful specimen of Dr. Ackerman's hardy camellia 'Snow Flurry' that was next to the Administration Building. It was suddenly cut down and there was no effort to save the valuable plant. Dr. Ackerman said it could have stayed in that spot for 100 years with a bit of selected pruning.

Steve Henning from the American Rhododendron Society had a prepared presentation on the intrinsic value of the azaleas in the Glenn Dale collection, and that documentation should not be a priority.

Don Hyatt from the Azalea Society of America and the American Rhododendrons Society spoke next. He decided to speak off the cuff so he could refer to some of the comments expressed by the panel. He mentioned his close association to the Arboretum since childhood. He added to what Steve had said about the unlabeled plants, and said that he thought the azaleas on the hillside really could be identified in time. He mentioned that in every horticultural specialty area, there are skilled experts who are able to identify plant varieties beyond a shadow of a doubt. He said that azalea experts know that 'Red Ruffles' is exactly the same plant as the patented 'Redwings' but people changed the name so they wouldn't have to pay the royalty fees. That led into a comment about the possibility of DNA tests to verify plants in the future. Don also brought up some background on R. Kent Beattie's second introduction of Kurume azaleas including 'Koromo Shikibu' which was obviously mixed up years ago. The original description does not match the plant we refer to by that name today. It obviously is not a Kurume but a selection of the species R. stenopetalum (formerly R. macrosepalum). Don did have time to pick up on the comment by Bob Dolebois about the "right plant, right place" and tried to emphasize the value of the germplasm on the Glenn Dale hillside. These are plants that have stood the test of time for over 60 years and still look great and that is of great value. Don ended with a brief comment about the need to reinstate the Advisory Council, experts who can give the Arboretum some guidance before they make decisions.

Ted Stecki from the American Rhododendron Society spoke briefly about the history Glenn Dale Azaleas and the American Rhododendron Society.

Harold Belcher from the Azalea Society of America gave a great presentation talking about his long-term involvement with the Arboretum, the Ben Morrison Chapter, and the value of the Glenn Dales.

Kevin Walek who is past president of all the local Hosta and Daylily Societies was eloquent. He is the past president of the national organizations as well. He agreed with Don Hyatt about the existence of experts in their field who are able to identify plants. He is the International Registrar for hostas and noted that there are about 4000 registered hostas right now and he can tell about 3000 of them apart by sight alone. He can identify as many as half of the 70,000 registered daylilies, too. In his "Perry Mason" style, Kevin really took to task the Arboretum's decision making process. He emphasized that there was no input into the decision to destroy these collections whatsoever. He dramatically repeated several times his catch phrase, "This was a dictate, not a dialogue!" He said the plant societies do not trust the Arboretum anymore and several others echoed that concern later. That seemed to stick with Dr. Hefferan since she mentioned it again in her closing remarks as the one thing that disturbed her about the discussions. She said she really wanted to remedy that situation.

Jeannie Connelly who is the Director of FONA was also very eloquent. She picked up on the lack of dialogue with the stakeholders, and she emphasized the decision was made by two people with no input from anyone. She said if there had been a dialogue, the Arboretum wouldn't have faced such hostility. People may not have liked the decision, but at least they would have been able to participate in the process. She did say that there may be a sliver lining in all of this. In the end, the Arboretum may be better off because of this error in judgment. Someone mentioned that the Arboretum administration doesn't even get input from its most knowledgeable staff, the curators.

In the closing comments, Pam Allenstein picked up again on the need to re-establish trust. She also stressed the importance of "staying fresh" and for the collections to "stay relevant." She questioned whether it was necessary to preserve the older display gardens. Respond to this, Don Hyatt said it was right in the mission statement for the Arboretum. The Arboretum's mission clearly states it has three objectives... "To serve the public need for 1) scientific research, 2) education, and 3) gardens that conserve and showcase plants that enhance the environment." At that time, Don added that the Arboretum seemed to have forgotten its own heritage, the past Directors and researchers who had done so much to expand the collections. He mentioned his personal admiration for a number of past Directors including Dr. Creech and the fact that he brought Dr. Creech back to the Arboretum during the ARS/ASA Convention in 2006 for his last visit prior to his death. Bob Dolebois countered Don's statement by saying it is more important to look forward rather than in the "rear view mirror" and implied that maybe it was time to write another mission statement. Holly Shimizu mentioned she really liked comments made about preserving heritage plants at the Arboretum.

The FONA people were great and very supportive. Kathy Horan and Jeannie Connelly praised the Save the Azaleas website. Dr. Hefferan seemed genuinely concerned and she listened very intently. She admitted that a three minute statement by each stakeholder was not much time to express anything about complex issues, and she said that this meeting was just the beginning. She emphasized the fact that she really wanted to regain our trust.

At the end of the program, Dr. Hefferan left with Arboretum staff and the panel to discuss what had gone on that day. A number of us stayed for a discussion over lunch supplied by FONA. At that time, Shirley Nicholai made a comment about the "cull azaleas" on the hill and was referencing Tony Avent's January e-newsletter which he retracted in February. Don Hyatt explained to her that Morrison grew 70,000 seedlings at Beltsville and he did throw the culls away. The plants he put on Mt. Hamilton were the best of the batch including all of the known Glenn Dales and another 500 to 600 varieties that were equally nice. None of them were culls.

FONA has prepared some materials including a handout they want to make available this spring to encourage contributions to the endowment to save the azaleas and boxwood. The short term goal is to build on the broad momentum and support expressed by so many people about the azalea and boxwood collections. If 100,000 concerned individuals can donate $10 each, we can match the million dollar donation and that should be sufficient to preserve those collections in perpetuity. Eventually, the goal is to try to endow all of the collections, but they will need about $50 million for that.

A full transcript is being prepared.

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National Arboretum Collections Saved

Garden Club of America Conservation Watch Spring 2011 Edition
Ref: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53426455/Conwatch-Spring-11

Barbara Shea, Green Springs Valley G.C. (MD) – Zone VI
President, Casey Tree Farm
Chairman, Friends of the National Arboretum Planning Committee

Colien Hefferan became Director of the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) in December of 2010. Her main responsibility will be to develop a strategy for the long-term sustainability of the USNA. Immediately upon her arrival at USNA, Dr. Hefferan was enveloped in a firestorm created by a decision to destroy the azalea and boxwood collections due to limited resources. The Azalea collection draws a larger number of visitors to the Arboretum than any other attraction and the Boxwood Collection is the only collection at USNA certified as a National Collection by the North American Plant Collections Consortium. Dr. Hefferan was asked to address the recent NAL meeting on both the fate of the threatened collections and the future of the National Arboretum.

Dr. Hefferan assured GCA members that the decision to remove the azalea, boxwood, daylily, daffodil and perennial collections has been put on hold while new sources of funding are developed and the collection policy is reviewed. An anonymous donor has already pledged an endowment of $1 million to go towards this effort and The Friends of the National Arboretum has begun a campaign to raise a matching $1 million. The USNA, like all arboreta and botanical gardens, faces a huge task in achieving long-term financial stability. In addition, it has other challenges due to the fact that it resides within a federal agency, the Department of Agriculture. Dr. Hefferan is determined to review all aspects of USNA’s mission, structure, programs and possible revenue sources in order to put it on a path to a sustainable future. She has begun to reach out to stakeholders in a series of meetings at which the GCA will be represented. She sees private partners as an integral part of any long-term solution to the health of USNA. Dr. Hefferan is a breathe of fresh air to all who have been concerned for years about the declining funding of the National Arboretum and the corresponding effect on its collections and programs.

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Million dollar donation, stakeholders' outrage save Arboretum's azaleas, boxwoods from deliberate destruction

District I, National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc. The Garden Post Spring 2011 Edition
Ref: http://www.scribd.com/doc/49807413/Garden-Post-Spring-2011

FONA receives $1 million donation to save the collections; hort experts and gardening groups lead opposition to Arboretum's destructive decision.

On Valentine's Day, Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) announced it received a $1 million donation that will establish an endowment to help preserve the azalea and boxwood collections at the Arboretum destined for deliberate destruction.

FONA plans to launch a major fundraising campaign this spring to raise an additional $1 million needed to maintain the collections into the future.

FONA reports the $1 million donation was made anonymously be friends honoring prominent attorney Brendan V. Sullivan, Jr., and Lila Sullivan, longtime residents of the Washington area.

A successful "Save the Azaleas" website and letter writing campaign created by horticulture experts and other special interest groups helped save the prized collections of boxwood and azaleas at the Arboretum.

The groups galvanized community responses and led strong opposition to the Arboretum's decision to destroy or dismantle the azalea and boxwood collections. The groups include the Azalea Society of America; American Boxwood Society; American Daffodil, Hemerocallis, and Rhododendron Societies; Garden Club of America, and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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FONA Announces Azalea & Boxwood Collections Campaign

FONA

For immediate release
April 18, 2011

  Contact: Janice L. Kaplan (202) 277-5461
JaniceLKaplan@JaniceLKaplan.com
STAB

Friends of the National Arboretum

FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN
Public Invited to Help Save Historic Plants

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) this week announced a major fundraising campaign to save the U.S. National Arboretum’s Azalea and National Boxwood Collections. The campaign seeks to raise $1 million from individuals, families and organizations who value and enjoy one of the area’s most magnificent and culturally important natural displays.

“This $1 million campaign, together with an earlier gift of the same amount, is needed to permanently preserve these collections and ensure they will be enjoyed by future generations,” said FONA Board of Directors Chairman Jeanne Connelly. “The Arboretum is expecting an unprecedented number of visitors this spring due to the recent publicity and uncertainty surrounding the future of these collections. It is our hope that all of those who have expressed an interest and concern about the azaleas and boxwood will support the campaign as the best way to assure the long-term viability of the collections.”

“The National Arboretum without the azaleas, or boxwood, for that matter, is like the Tidal Basin without the cherry trees,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Here’s a chance for those of us who have enjoyed one of Washington’s premier spring attractions year after year to make sure these quintessential collections are still around 100 years from now or even next spring.”

The historic Glenn Dale azalea collection has long been a landmark in Washington. It was the magic of the spring azalea display that first prompted the Arboretum to open to the public in 1949. Today, the Arboretum hosts more than half a million visitors a year, and the annual spectacle of the azaleas in bloom is considered one of Washington’s premier spring attractions. As many as 100,000 visitors flock to the Arboretum during the six-week blooming period each spring to witness thousands of azaleas in a blaze of color. The adjacent National Boxwood Collection contains more than 150 varieties, making it one of the most complete in the world.

Collections in Jeopardy

However, due to the loss of funds from a private trust, Arboretum officials announced last year plans to eliminate the most frequently visited section of the Azalea Collections and dismantle the National Boxwood Collection (and the associated Perennials Collection). The announcement hit a horticultural nerve throughout the region and around the country. Countless fans galvanized community response and led strong opposition to the Arboretum’s decision.

In February, the Arboretum’s new Director, Dr. Colien Hefferan, temporarily suspended the earlier decision, saying: “We have heard and appreciate the public outpouring of comments and concerns about de-accessioning the Glenn Dale azaleas and the Boxwood and Perennials Collections,” adding that the Arboretum “will reassess its current resource use and opportunities to expand private support.”

FONA also announced in February it had received an anonymous $1 million donation to establish an endowment to help preserve the two collections. The donation was made in honor of prominent attorney Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. and Lila Sullivan. Despite this generous initial contribution, it will take twice this amount, with many donors giving at all levels, to ensure the future of these collections. FONA will devote all of the funds raised in this special campaign to the Azalea and Boxwood Collections. In turn, the Arboretum’s Director has assured FONA that these funds will be used solely to protect and maintain these two collections over the long-term.

How To Give

Supporters can make tax-deductible contributions to the campaign by:

· Donating online through the FONA website www.fona.org. Click on “Save the Azaleas and Boxwood Donate Now.
· Mailing a check to Friends of the National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002-1958, payable to “FONA Save the Azaleas Fund.
· Calling in your credit card donation to the FONA office (202) 544-8733.

Best Time To Visit

Peak azalea bloom in 2011 is expected to be between April 22 and May 1. Many azaleas are in bloom long after the peak and others bloom early. Check the “Azalea Blossom Watch” on the Arboretum’s home page (www.usna.usda.gov) for blooming dates and conditions. Because of their popularity, the azaleas attract many visitors to the Arboretum, especially on weekends. Consider visiting during the week or early in the day. The Arboretum grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission and parking are free. The evergreen Boxwood Collection is enchanting in any season. Don’t miss the accompanying display of perennials that includes seasonal favorites such as daffodils, peonies and daylilies.

About the Arboretum

The U.S. National Arboretum is a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility and a living museum. It has served for many decades as a vital public asset, providing generations the opportunity for both learning and enjoyment. In addition to the azaleas and boxwood, the Arboretum houses other world-class gardens and collections including the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Asian Collections, Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection, Fern Valley Native Plant Collection, the two-and-a-half acre National Herb Garden and the Washington Youth Garden. The Arboretum is located at 3501 New York Avenue, NE. Public programs and special events are held throughout the year. For more information, visit www.usna.usda.gov or call (202) 245-2726.

About FONA

FONA is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1982 by gardeners, horticulturists, landscape designers and other supporters to raise money and expand awareness of the gardens and collections of the federal Arboretum and its research and education programs–much like FONZ supports the National Zoo. Over the years, FONA, the National Bonsai Foundation and other stakeholder groups, along with families, neighbors, corporate partners and foundations, have contributed millions of dollars in support of this 446-acre green space. Further information is available from FONA, www.fona.org or (202) 544-8733
# # #

NOTE TO EDITORS: For high resolution digital photographs of the Azalea and Boxwood Collections, contact JaniceLKaplan@aol.com.

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NBC TV Washington: Save the Azaleas!

April 22, 2011
Ref: http://www.nbcwashington.com/the-scene/events/Saving_the_Azaleas_at_the_National_Arboretum_Washington_DC-120517209.htmlABC7

Telecast segment by Tom Sherwood on NBC TV, Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

Video features interviews with a representative from FONA and Dr. Colien Hefferan, Director of U.S. National Arboretum . The interview can be downloaded as the mov: NBCWashington.mov

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Dr. Colien Hefferan appears on The Kojo Nnamdi Show

On April 25, 2011, the Director of U.S. National Arboretum appeared on the WAMU ShowKOJO

Rebecca Roberts conducted the interview of Dr. Hefferan on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on radio station WAMU in Washington, DC. This was on Monday, April 25, 2011. A podcast of this show is available at: http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=9911221.

It is a 20 minute section. About 10 minutes is about the azaleas. A caller, presumably Jeanne K. Connelly, Chair of FONA, called in and mentioned how people can support FONA to save the Azalea and Boxwood Collections.

Dr. Hefferan kept mentioning that the azaleas and boxwood were both "iconic" collections for the arboretum. She mentioned how the save the azalea campaign shows how many people appreciated the arboretum. The interview can be downloaded as the mp3: BehindTheNationalArboretum.mp3

Behind The National Arboretum on WAMU

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WJLA-Washington: National Arboretum exhibits may fall to budget cuts

April 26, 2011
Ref: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2011/04/natl-arboretum-exhibit-may-fall-to-budget-cuts-59494.htmlABC7

Telecast segment by Mark Segraves on WJLA, ABC Channel 7, Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

The interview can be downloaded as the mov: WJLA.mov

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House Appropriations Committee says Save The Azaleas

House

June 2, 2011
Ref: http://www.fona.org/storage/fona/documents/fy2012_agriculture_full_committee_report_pg13.pdf

In the House Committee on Appropriations' Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, the Report stated:

National Arboretum.—The Committee directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection. The Committee encourages the National Arboretum to work collaboratively with supporters of the National Arboretum to raise additional funds to ensure the long-term viability of these and other important collections.

June 3, 2011
Ref: http://democrats.rules.house.gov/112/billreport/112_hr2112_rpt.pdf

The House Appropriations Committee the committee report on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill with the same wording as above.

June 16, 2011
Ref: http://appropriations.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=247105

The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill passed the full House on June 16.

 

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House Republicans Cut Food Assistance For Low-Income Families While Protecting Azaleas

House

June 14, 2011
Ref: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/14/house-republicans-food-assistance-families-azaleas_n_876568.html

WASHINGTON -- If you're an azalea at the National Arboretum, you're in luck -- a Republican on the House Appropriations Committee is looking out for you. If you're a woman, infant or child, however, you're on your own.

Slipped into the FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that the House is expected to take up today is an unusual provision on page 13 requiring the National Arboretum to maintain a very specific portion of its azalea collection.

"The Committee directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection," reads the bill. "The Committee encourages the National Arboretum to work collaboratively with supporters of the National Arboretum to raise additional funds to ensure the long-term viability of these and other important collections."

While azaleas are being carefully tended to, the bill would cut $832 million from a program that provides food assistance to low-income mothers and children. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the reduction could result in as many as 475,000 people being turned away from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) if food prices continue to rise.

“Everyday people across the country leave their homes in search of work, only to return at the end of the day with more worries and less hope," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the agriculture subcommittee's ranking member. "At a time that people continue to struggle to make ends meet, Republicans want to cut funding to food programs that are helping put food on the tables of those most in need."

"Governing is about choices. It is clear where the House majority’s priorities lie -- and it is not with those of the American people," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a strong WIC advocate, in a statement. "These cuts are unconscionable and will not only hurt families trying to survive, but also hurt our economy."

"We understand that we have an obligation to get our fiscal house in order," added Farr. "And Democrats are ready to work with our friends across the aisle to make that happen, but not by discriminately targeting those most in need.”

---

It's not clear who is responsible for the azalea provision, and the office of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, did not return a request for comment.

National Arboretum Director Colien Hefferan was equally confused when contacted by The Huffington Post on Monday.

"We did not request the specific language in the bill, either through the Arboretum or the Department of Agriculture as a whole," she said. "I presume some stakeholders were eager to ensure that the azalea collection, as well as the boxwood collection, are protected at the Arboretum and probably requested through a congressman, but I don't really know the source. ... To my knowledge, there has not been an unfunded direction to the arboretum that's come in the appropriations bill previously."

Additionally, the Arboretum has already committed to preserving the azalea collection. In fact, there's a message on this issue on the front page of the institution's website.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that the financially strapped Arboretum was considering removing some of the beloved shrubs to deal with budget shortfalls, including the loss of private donations.

After public outcry and a $1 million endowment gift from an anonymous donor, the Arboretum announced in February that it was reversing its decision.

Several current and former members of Congress and staffers sit on the board of the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) and used to work or serve on the Appropriations Committee. They all told The Huffington Post that they were not responsible for the appropriations bill provision and had no idea who was.

"I am prohibited by law from having any contact with the House or Senate for 2 years -- ethics reform trumps the Bill of Rights -- so, no, that was not my request," emailed back former Utah senator Bob Bennett, commenting on the fact that he's not allowed to lobby Congress.

Former Missouri senator Kit Bond's office simply replied, "In response to your question, the answer is 'no.'"

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen's (D-N.J.) spokesman also said the congressman did not make the request.

Charles Flickner, a former staff director for the Appropriations Committee, said that as far as he could tell, no one on the FONA board requested the provision and it was likely inserted by staff or members who are simply azalea fans.

"From the email traffic, we're all quite astonished to see it, because I don't think anybody from the [FONA] government affairs committee, which I'm not a part of...requested it," said Flickner. "I do know that the staff, at least in the House, are well familiar with the issue. There are people who know about the arboretum and appreciate it."

[Editors Comment: What this article fails to mention is that both programs would have reduced funding. The statement about the azaleas at the National Arboretum was not in the appropriations bill but in a report that accompanies the appropriations bill. It was responding to the misguided idea by the interim director of the U.S. National Arboretum to spend federal funds to destroy the oldest and most popular display at the U.S. National Arboretum. Wide-spread support for the azaleas has raised private funds for the National Arboretum. The house report was simply encouraging the U.S. National Arboretum to work with supporters in the private sector that are raising private funds to help make up for funding reductions.]

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ABC7


Arboretum Sharing Rare Azalea Cuttings

Monday, July 25, 2011
Ref: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/DC-Arboretum-Sharing-Cuttings-of-Azaleas-126106003.html

Horticulturalists from Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in South Carolina are traveling to Washington to take cuttings from rare azaleas at the National Arboretum to share with gardens around the country.

Earlier this year, the 65-year-old azalea collection was saved by an anonymous $1 million donation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had planned to remove them because of funding troubles.

The horticulturalists from Magnolia Gardens will take the cuttings Thursday. They say the plants likely have a genetic link to material kept at the Charleston, S.C., site. The National Arboretum's first director, Ben Morrison, used materials from Magnolia for his extensive breeding program to produce the first large flowered azaleas that could withstand cooler temperatures in the mid-Atlantic region.

The flowers bloom each April and May, drawing 100,000 visitors in Washington.

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Post and Courier

Magnolia Plantation to get azalea cuttings from U.S. arboretum

Tom JohnsonFrom The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC
Ref: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jul/27/preserving-the-past/

BY Bo Petersen, bpetersen@postandcourier.com
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tom Johnson heads to the National Arboretum today to save some cuttings of Lowcountry history.

The azaleas will be from the prized Glenn Dale collection bred by former arboretum Director Ben Morrison in the 1940s, crossbreeds developed with cuttings from a type of Belgian indica azaleas at Magnolia Plantation. Johnson, the plantation's gardens director, is bringing them back to their roots. From the Magnolia greenhouse, the propagated azaleas will be planted in 30 other public and private gardens across the country.

Less than a year ago, these azaleas were doomed.

"These are some of our children and grandchildren," Johnson said. "We have learned it's really scary to have one plant in (only) one location."

They were saved, for a while at least, by a public outcry of horticultural groups who understood their significance, then by an anonymous $1 million donation establishing an endowment. Among those who made that outcry was Scott Aker, the arboretum horticulture director.

"With things the way things are with the federal government, whether or not we're going to be able to take care of these (azaleas) is in question," Aker said. The Magnolia effort distributing the plants "is very important to us, so all the eggs are not in one basket. A plant is lost forever when it's lost."

The azaleas are among 10,000 that Morrison planted 65 years ago. Aker estimates that about 3,000 are left. Ironically, a lot of the others were lost because of staff cutbacks during budget cuts in late 1980s and early 1990s.

How many will be given to Magnolia isn't a given -- only 500 have been approved for this trip. A few hundred is routine, said Colien Hefferan, arboretum director. "Whether one garden would be able to take thousands of cuttings is something we'll have to talk about."

Not only was Morrison the arboretum's first director, he was in the forefront of propagating species of what historically had been considered a common man's plant.

The azaleas are among some 60,000 now at the arboretum. In the commercial horticulture world, they have a fatal flaw: Morrison's records for them have been lost. The azaleas do not have names and are unsourced -- nobody really knows what each one is or where its cuttings came from.

That doesn't decrease their value to Magnolia or the garden community worldwide, he said. The azaleas are among the "old ones," considered to be the most valuable of any plant species because their DNA might carry genes that could resist insects or diseases that kill more contemporary plants.

And, "they are Ben Morrison's life and legacy. That should not be arbitrarily lost to budget cuts," Johnson said. He is among four Magnolia staffers who will make the trip. The Norfolk Botanical Gardens curator from Virginia also will take plants to propagate at that site.

Along with thousands of other azaleas, the group will cut from private collections in the Washington area, the Morrison plants will make their way back to the Magnolia gardens among hundreds of thousands of other azaleas.

Morrison hybrid-bred the original Magnolia azaleas to be more tolerant to mid-Atlantic cold, but Johnson is confident that at least 80 percent will survive in the shaded plantation gardens where camellias thrive.

[Tom Johnson is director of gardens at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and chairman of the propagation committee of the Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance.]

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Arboretum Releases New “Living Collections Policy”

From Colien Hefferan, Director; April 25, 2012
Ref: http://www.usna.usda.gov/USNACollectionsPolicy.pdf

USDA

April 25, 2012

The U.S. National Arboretum is pleased to release a new “Living Collections Policy” which describes the purposes and procedures for decisions and practices related to living Germplasm at the Arboretum. As a conservator of plant materials for current and future research purposes, and for public display and education, we developed this policy to reflect guidance from the scientific and broader stakeholder community and to serve our mission to foster discovery leading to economically, environmentally and aesthetically valuable landscapes and environmental horticulture. The policy will be in force for five years, after which it will be subject to review and revision.

Colien Hefferan, Director, USNA

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How You Can Help
National Arboretum's Statements
News/Archives
Contacts
Links
Editorials
Photos
 ? 

Contacts

The US National Arboretum has responded to pressure from people wanting to Save The Azaleas by suspending plans to destroy collections of plants, and by creating a Collections Comments Form. Use this form to support this suspension of plans to destroy collections and give your ideas on how such unfortunate decisions can be prevented in the future.

I will keep up this website and the following contact information. It appears that it isn't as urgent now as it was, but until the situations is resolved we need pressure from all sides. Of course, Congress has ultimate control. USDA Administrators run the National Arboretum. The Washington Post is the DC area newspaper and reaches both the local population and national news sources. And the Friends of the National Arboretum are influential in providing private funding and wield serious power in determining what is done.

Don Hyatt created the one-page "Save The Azaleas Fact Sheet" to include when asking other people to help. The webmaster has created a Mission Statement for this website that can be used as the genesis of a letter asking other people to help. A copy of the Mission Statement in a format suitable for editing is available.

1) Contact USDA Administrators: To open an email addressed to administrators at the USDA, click here: USDA Administrators. Be sure to add your own words.

2) Contact the president, your senators and your congressman: To contact your federal elected officials, you can put your home zip code in the following box and click GO. Then for each elected official, select email & "Compose Your Own Letter". Suggested subject: US National Arboretum. Suggested issue: Agriculture.

3) Contact your local magazines and newspapers: To contact your local media, you can click HERE

Tell your azalea and rhododendron friends, and your garden lover friends about this website "savetheazaleas.org" and Don Hyatt's "Save The Azaleas Fact Sheet".

If you know someone who we don't have on the list below that is influential, please let us know at

Your Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Your Congressman: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry:

Stabenow
Debbie Stabenow

Roberts
Pat Roberts

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chairman
Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
Tom Harkin, Iowa
Kent Conrad, North Dakota
Max Baucus, Montana
E. Benjamin Nelson, Nebraska
Sherrod Brown, Ohio
Robert Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Michael Bennet, Colorado
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York

Pat Roberts (R-KA)
Ranking Minority Member

Richard G. Lugar, Indiana
Saxby Chambliss, Georgia
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
Mike Johanns, Nebraska
Charles Grassley, Iowa
John Thune, South Dakota
John Boozman, Arkansas
Joe Hoeven, North Dakota

House Committee On Agriculture:

Lucas
Frank D. Lucas

Peterson
Collin C. Peterson

Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla.
Chairman

Bob Goodlatte (VA),
Vice Chairman

Timothy V. Johnson (IL)
Steve King (IA)
Randy Neugebauer (TX)
K. Michael Conaway (TX)
Jeff Fortenberry (NE)
Jean Schmidt (OH)
Glenn Thompson (PA)
Tom Rooney (FL)

Rick Crawford (AR)
Scott DesJarlais (TN)
Renee Ellmers (NC)
Stephen Fincher (TN)
Bob Gibbs (OH)
Chris Gibson (NY)
Vicky Hartzler (MO)
Tim Huelskamp (KS)
Randy Hultgren (IL)
Reid Ribble (WI)
Martha Roby (AL)
Bobby Schilling (IL)
Austin Scott (GA)
Steve Southerland (FL)
Marlin Stutzman (IN)
Scott Tipton (CO)

Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn. Ranking Minority Member

Tim Holden (PA)
Mike McIntyre (NC)
Leonard Boswell (IA)
Joe Baca (CA)
Dennis Cardoza (CA)
David Scott (GA)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
Jim Costa (CA)
Timothy J. Walz (MN)
Kurt Schrader (OR)
Larry Kissell(NC)
Bill Owens (NY)
Chellie Pingree (ME)
Joe Courtney (CT)
Peter Welch (VT)
Marcia L. Fudge (OH)
Gregorio Sablan (NMI)
Terri A. Sewell (AL)
James McGovern (MA)

Eleanor Holmes Norton
Representative from District of Columbia

NortonEleanor Holmes Norton
2136 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Email    Phone: 202 225-8050    Fax: 202 225-3002

Roscoe Bartlett
Representative from north Maryland

BartlettRoscoe Bartlett
2412 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2006

Email    Phone: 202-225-2721    Fax: 202-225-2193

Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture

VilsackTom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
Washington, DC 20250

Kathleen Merrigan
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

MerriganKathleen Merrigan
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
Washington, DC 20250

Email:

Dr. Catherine Woteki
Under-Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, USDA

WotekiDr. Catherine Woteki
Under-Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
Washington, DC 20250

Email:

Edward B. Knipling
Administrator & Head of Agriculture Research Service, USDA

KniplingEdward B. Knipling
Administrator & Head of Agriculture Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Room 302-A
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
Washington, DC 20250

Email: ;
Phone: (202) 720-3656;    Fax: (202) 720-5427

Dr. Colien Hefferan
Director
USDA: National Arboretum

HefferanDr. Colien Hefferan
Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958

Email: ; Phone: (202) 245-4539 ; Fax: (202) 245-5973

Scott M Aker
USDA: National Arboretum

AkerScott Aker
Gardens Unit Leader
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958

Email: ; Phone: (202) 245-4533 ; Fax: (202) 245-5973

Judith St. John
USDA: Agricultural Research Service

St.JohnJudith St. John
Deputy Administrator
National Program Staff
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Beltsville, Maryland 20705

Email: ; Office telephone: 301.504.6252; FAX: 301.504.4663

Dr. Joseph Spence
USDA: Agricultural Research Service

SpenceDr. Joseph Spence
Beltsville Area Director
10300 Baltimore Blvd.
Room 223, Bldg. 003, BARC-West
Beltsville, MD 20702

Email: ; Office telephone: 301.504.6078; FAX: 301.504.5863

Horticulturists
USDA: National Arboretum

Lynn Batdorf - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-5965
Carole Bordelon - - Supervisory Research Horticulturist - (202) 245-5964
Barbara Bullock - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-4511
Christopher Carley - - Supervisory Research Horticulturist - (202) 245-5975
Bradley Evans - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-4564
Joan Feely - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-4512
David Kidwell-Slak - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-2704
Christine Moore - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-5093
Mariya Navazio - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-5969
Christopher Upton - - Horticulturist - (202) 245-2706

Gardens Unit Horticulturist
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-1958
Washington Post
Letters to the Editor
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/20/AR2007022000709.html
Adrian Higgins
Washington Post
Gardening Columnist
Higgins

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA)

Friends of the National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

Phone: (202) 544-8733; Fax: (202) 544-5398; http://www.fona.org/

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA)
Executive Director

Kathy Horan, Executive Director
Friends of the National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

Email: ; Phone: (202) 544-8733; Fax: (202) 544-5398

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA)
Board of Directors

Chair - Jeanne K. Connelly, Consultant,
First Vice President - Linda Dooley, Bryce Harlow Foundation
Second Vice President - James Derderian - Stanton Park Group
Secretary - Terry R. Lewis - Civic Volunteer
Treasurer - Deborah E. Bowles, Abravanel & Bowles Wealth Management Group, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC
Assistant Treasurer - J. Denis O'Toole - HSBC North America
Ex Officio - William B. Inglee, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Robert Bartlett Jr. - The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co.
Sarah S. Boasberg - Greenspaces of Washington D.C.
Elizabeth Boyle - National Alliance to End Homelessness
Nancy Bryson - Holland and Hart LLP
Katherine Stark Bull - Retired
Robert Cashdollar - Cashdollar-Jones & Company
Lynne Church - Consultant & Landscape Designer
Diana Clagett - Civic Volunteer
Tene Dolphin - US Department of Commerce
Marsha A. Echols - Howard University School of Law
Charles Flickner - Consultant
Sherrill M. Houghton, Landscape Designer
James Hughs - National Bonsai Foundation
Eleanor Kerr - Seimens Corporation
Jack Krumholtz - Glover Park Group
Suzanne D. Kuser, Consultant
Andrew LaVigne - American Seed Trade Association
Bill Matuszeski - Center for Watershed Protection
Scot Medbury - Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Paul Meyer - Morris Arboretum
Christina Mulvihill - Sony Corporation
Mary Eugenia Myer - The Washington Revels & Landscape Planner
Woodruff M. Price - Retired
Elizabeth Rea - Founding President of FONA & Former President National Herb Society of America
Robert I. Schramm - Schramm, Williams & Associates
Barbara Shea - Civic Volunteer
Jerry Slominski - International Dairy Foods Association
Mark Sullivan - Civic Volunteer
Paul Sweet - IGR Group
Theodore Van der Meid - McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
Jay Vroom - Crop Life America
Tuckie Westfall - Kraft Foods
Alexandra Wilson - Cox Enterprises, Inc

Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA)
Honorary Directors

Senator Robert Bennett
Representative Earl Blumenauer
Senator Christopher S. Bond
Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen
Nancy H. Ireland
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Representative Mike Pence
Agnes Westbrook

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How You Can Help
National Arboretum's Statements
News/Archives
Contacts
Links
Editorials
Photos
 ? 

Links About The U.S. National Arboretum

For links to Editorials concerning the Arboretum's Plans to Destroy the Glenn Dale Azaleas go to Editorials

American Rhododendron Society: "Azaleas And Rhododendrons At The U. S. National Arboretum," 1954, by Henry T. Skinner describing "65,000 Glenn Dale hybrids in brilliant groupings of thirty five or forty plants to a clone."

American Rhododendron Society: "B. Y. Morrison and His Azaleas," 1968, by Frederick P. Lee

American Rhododendron Society: "Garden Dedication In Honor Of Frederic P. Lee," 1971, by Henry T. Skinner

American Rhododendron Society: "Glenn Dale Azaleas," 1969, by Dr. Roy Magruder

American Rhododendron Society: "Studies on Glenn Dale Azaleas at the National Arboretum," 1968, by Dr. Roy Magruder

Audubon Society: U.S. National Arboretum

Azalea Society of America: Listing and Photos of 454 Glenn Dale Azaleas

Azalea Society of America: "National Arboretum," 2004

"Azalea Works, The" a website by William C. Miller III which offers books about The Glenn Dale Azaleas

DC Pages: National Arboretum Azalea Walk

Friends of the National Arboretum: Home Page

Friends of the National Arboretum: Announce Major Donation

Hill Rag (DC), Feb. 2011: "National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit" by Rindy O'Brien

Hyatt: 2008 Edinburgh: "What's New in Evergreen Azaleas"

Hyatt: 2009 ASA Keynote: "1) Evergreen Azaleas: Sorting Out the Confusion"

Hyatt: 2009 ASA Keynote: "2) Hybridizing Concerns: Color Inheritance, Polyploidy, and Sterility"

Hyatt: 2009 ASA Keynote: "3) Thoughts on Azalea Hybridizing"

Hyatt: 2009 ASA Keynote: "4) The Quest for the Yellow Evergreen Azalea"

Hyatt: "My Fascination with Knap Hill Azaleas"

Hyatt: Save The Azaleas Fact Sheet - 12/05/2010

National Arboretum: "A Mountain of Bright Spring Blossoms"

National Arboretum: Announces decision to suspend actions to remove azaleas, boxwood, and perennial collections

National Arboretum: "Azalea Blossom Watch"

National Arboretum: "Azalea Introductions, 459 cultivars listed"

National Arboretum: "Azalea Questions and Answers"

National Arboretum: "Azalea Walk"

National Arboretum: "Dr. Colien Hefferan, Director of US National Arboretum"

National Arboretum: "Dr. Colien Hefferan Named Director of U.S. National Arboretum"

National Arboretum: "Fast Facts About The Arboretum"    "pdf version"

National Arboretum: "Glenn Dale Azaleas Photo Gallery"

National Arboretum: "Living Collections Policy"

National Arboretum: Master Plan Introduction

National Arboretum: "Ramon Jordan, Interim Director"

National Arboretum: "Rhododendron Glenn Dale Hybrid Azaleas"

National Arboretum: "Strategic Plan 2"

National Arboretum: "Summer Horticultural Internships"

National Arboretum: "Still Beautiful at 75; Volunteers to the Rescue"

National Arboretum: "Visitor Guide" which states "15,000 vividly colored Glenn Dale Azaleas grow on Mount Hamilton among native trees like the flowering dogwood"

National Arboretum: "Volunteering at the Arboretum"

New York Times article chronicling the History and Restoration of the National Arboretum's Azalea Collection.

the back quarter acre blog: Glenn Dale Azaleas

Washington Gardener Blog: Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum

Washington Post: "going out guide: U.S. National Arboretum" by Maura Kelly

Washington Post: "Plans Wilt at National Arboretum," 2008, by Adrian Higgins

Washington Post: "A treasure of D.C.'s spring at risk at the arboretum" By Jeanne Connelly and Felix Laughlin

Yahoo! Azalea Group

YouTube: With springtime also come millions of azalea blossoms to the National Arboretum - 2009

Go to Links About the Arboretum           Go to Links to Editorials            Return to Top

How You Can Help
National Arboretum's Statements
News/Archives
Contacts
Links
Editorials
Photos
 ? 

Links to Editorials About the National Arboretum's Plans

Active Rain - Maryland Real Estate Blog:
          1/7/11 "Help Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum in DC"

Advocate Press:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

AGJournal:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

American Rhododendron Society Rhododendron and Azalea News:
          12/13/10 "An appeal ... save the azaleas in National Arboretum"

American Rhododendron Society - Eugene Chapter:
          2/1/11 "National Arboretum Plans To Destroy The Azaleas On The Mt. Hamilton Azalea Hillside"

American Rhododendron Society - Greater Philadelphia Chapter:
          1/10/11 "Help Save the Azaleas at the National Arboretum"
          2/14/11 "Help Save the Azaleas at the National Arboretum"

American Rhododendron Society - Great Lakes Chapter:
          3/1/11 "Classic 'Glenn Dale' Azaleas–Pink Slipped, Destroying 50 years of Growth"

American Rhododendron Society - Mason-Dixon Chapter:
          4/28/11 "Save The Azaleas, The National Arboretum Azalea Collection is in danger!"

American Rhododendron Society - Princeton Chapter:
          2/19/11 "Planned Destruction of the Original Glenn Dale Azaleas"

American Rhododendron Society - Siuslaw Chapter:
          2/1/11 "ASA and ARS member Don Hyatt interviewed by Hearst TV reporter Sally Kidd"

American Rhododendron Society - Susquehanna Valley Chapter:
          2/19/11 "The Bru-ha-ha at the National Arboretum"

American Rhododendron Society - Valley Forge Chapter:
          4/11 "Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum"

American Rhododendron Society - Willamette Chapter:
          2/11 "Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum"

Annapolis Capital:
          2/11/11 "National Arboretum threatens to destroy Glenn Dale azaleas"

Avon:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

BCDemocratOnline.com:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

The Behnke Nurseries Co. Garden Blog by Susan Harris:
          11/22/10 "Help Save Gardens at the National Arboretum"

Beltsville Garden Club:
          3/1/11 "The Arboretum’s Azaleas" By Sandy Lange

The Brookline Tab:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Cape St. Claire Garden Club:
          2/13/11 "Working together we can save this national treasure for our children!"

Charleston Magazine:
          4/1/11 "Operation Azalea Rescue" by Harriet McLeod

Charleston, SC, Post & Courier:
          12/12/10 " Keep heritage azaleas alive at arboretum" by Tom Johnson

Cheboygan News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Chronicle-Express.com:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Culture Tourism DC:
          2/17/11 "Generous Gift To National Arboretum Saves Azaleas"

Daily Kos:
          11/24/10 "Azaleas by cliffenz"
          11/27/10 "Azaleas Yet Again"
          1/16/11 "Back To the Azaleas! Call For Action!"
          1/30/11 "Bromeliads - Nah I'm Kidding You! Azaleas Again!"
          2/2/11 "It's not the Azaleas- it's the Money- Or is it?"
          2/4/11 "The National Arboretum Azalea Kill"
          2/5/11 "Azaleas - The East is Red- The West is Ready!"
          2/6/11 "Azaleas - Off the Chopping Block?"
          2/9/11 "Cloning the Azaleas - Frankenzalea Lives! Some Say..."
          2/12/11 "Azaleas, My Name is Wayne"
          2/19/11 "So, the Azaleas are saved..."
          2/21/11 "Freddy Meets the Azaleas"
          3/6/11 "Azaleas: A House Dvorak Against Itself"

The Daily Reporter:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt
          2/14/11 "Anonymous donor gives $1 million to save popular azaleas at National Arboretum"

The Daily Republican:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Dansville Online:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

DC Guerilla Gardeners:
          4/14/11 "Doing: Saving the Azaleas!"

DCist:
          11/29/10 "National Arboretum's Azalea Hill in Jeopardy" by Aaron Morrissey
          2/14/11 "National Arboretum's Azalea's Saved!" by Aaron Morrissey

Dedham Daily News Transcript:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: Plants in Peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

DIYShed Gardening News:
          2/15/11 "USNA Azalea and Boxwood Collections Get Reprieve" FONA Press Release

Dodge City:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Dover Post:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Facebook:
          11/22/10 "Save the Azalea Collection at the US National Arboretum"
          11/23/10 "Save the Azalea Collection at the US National Arboretum"

Fishing Creek Herb Guild:
          2/15/11 "... Last Days to see the U.S. National Arboretum's fabulous Azalea Collection in bloom."

Ft. Leavenworth Lamp:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Friends of the National Arboretum:
          11/24/10 "FONA Urges USNA to suspend azalea decision" By Jeanne Connelly, Chair, Board of Directors
          12/4/10 "A treasure of D.C.'s spring at risk at the arboretum" By Jeanne Connelly, Chair, Board of Directors and Felix Laughlin, president, National Bonsai Foundation
          2011 "FONA has announced dates for the 2011 Garden Fair! April 29-30"

Garden Club Salon:
          3/1/11 "National Arboretum Needs Your Help"

Garden Rant:
          11/22/10 "Lost a contributor? National Arboretum says it’s time to destroy some gardens!" By Susan Harris
          2/19/11 "Anonymous $1M Donor Rescues Embattled Azaleas" By Susan Harris

Garden Web:
          11/22/10 "Save The Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum"
          11/28/10 "Azaleas at National Arb threatened with destruction!"
          1/23/11 "Save The Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum"
          1/23/11 "TV Spot on National Arboretum axing its azaleas"
          2/9/11 "US National Arboretum Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside"
          2/11/11 "It is now easier to Help Save The Azaleas!"
          2/14/11 "Valentine's Day Un-Massacre @ National Arboretum"

Gazette.Net (Maryland Community News Online):
          2/25/11 "Glenn Dale residents help save azalea display at National Arboretum"
          3/3/11 "Glenn Dale residents help save azalea display at National Arboretum"

GCV Horticulture - The Garden Club of Virginia:
          11/29/10 "National Arboretum Funding Crisis" by Ann Hohenberger
          2/18/11 "Azaleas Granted a Stay of Execution" by Ann Hohenberger

Gesneriad Society -National Capital Area Chapter, Petal Tones:
          1/1/11 "Save The Azaleas"
          2/1/11 "U.S. National Arboretum Decision To De-Accession Selected Collections" by Harold Belcher
          3/1/11 "Update: U.S. National Arboretum" by Harold Belcher

Gloucester Gazette Journal:
          3/23/11 "Azaleas: Good News, and Bad"

Greater DC Cares:
          4/17/11 "Volunteer to Help Save the Azalea & Boxwood Collections at the Nat'l Arboretum"

Greater Greater Washington:
          11/23/10 "Arboretum to destroy azalea exhibit" by Julianne F-M

The Herald News:
          2/12/11 "Gardener's Journal: Plants in Peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Hill is Home, The (DC):
          11/22/10 "Things We Take for Granted: The United States National Arboretum" by Maria Helena Carey

Hill Rag (DC):
          2/1/11 "National Arboretum in the Year of the Rabbit Arboretum Will be Undergoing Many Changes" by Rindy O'Brien

The Hingham Journal:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

H-Net:
          11/22/10 "Azalea (and boxwood) controversy at National Arboretum" by Matthew Gilmore
          11/23/10 "Azalea controversy at National Arboretum" by Matthew Gilmore
          2/16/11 "Azaleas and boxwood removal stopped" by Matthew Gilmore

Hope in Hyattsville:
          11/24/10 "Latest on the National Arboretum’s Azalea Collection Furor"

Hudson Sun:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

It's An Izel World:
          12/10/10 "Shallow Vision Threatens Deep Rooted Azalea Legacy" by Claudio Vazquez

The Kansan:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

The Kojo Nnamdi Show:
          4/25/11 "Behind The National Arboretum"

Leavenworth Times:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Like the Dew: A Journal of Southern Culture & Politics:
          11/24/10 "Savaging the Azal
eas at the National Arboretum"

Linn County Leader:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens:
          1/2011 "Magnolia Gardens Chosen to Save the Ben Morrison Hybrid Azaleas at the National Arboretum"

Macon Chronicle-Herald:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Maynard Beacon Villager:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Metro West Daily News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal - Plants in Peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Middletown Transcript:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Milford Daily News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: Plants in Peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Mouthnews Times:
          2/18/11 "Arboretum Reverses Decision To Destroy Azalea Display After Public Backlash"

MPNnow.com:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Mt. Shasta News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

MyFoxDC.com:
          2/14/11 "Donor: $1M To Save National Arboretum's Azaleas"
          4/23/11 "Arboretum Azaleas Hike"

National Garden Club News:
          2/18/11 "Reprieve for U.S. National Arboretum's Azalea and Boxwood Collection"

NBCWashington.com:
          2/14/11 "Anonymous Donor Saves the Azaleas" by Carissa Dimargo
          4/22/11 "Save The Azaleas!" by Tom Sherwood

NBC/MSNBC:
          11/22/10: "Are the Azaleas Doomed?" by P. J. Orvetti
          11/23/10 "The Night Note: Save the Azaleas" by Brendan Williams-Kief

NC News Press:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

News & Advance, Lynchburg, Virginia:
          12/14/10 "Washington's azaleas threatened" by Don Davis

Niagara Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada:
          12/24/10 "Destroying 50 Years of Growth"

OJornal:
          2/12/11 "Gardener's Journal: Plants in peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Olney Daily Mail:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Patriot Ledger:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Pekin Daily Times:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Plainville Country Gazette:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Pontiac Daily Leader:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Pratt Tribune:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Prince of Petworth (DC blog):
          11/23/10 "national arboretum to destroy mature azaleas exhibit because it draws too many people"
          2/15/11 "U.S. National Arboretum’s Azaleas Saved! For now…"

The Redwood Falls Gazette:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

The Republic:
          2/14/11 "Anonymous donor gives $1 million to save popular azaleas at National Arboretum"

Rhododendron Society of Canada - Niagara Chapter:
          1/1/10 "Destroying 50 Years of Growth"

Richmond Bonsai Society:
          1/16/11 "National Arboretum to destroy azalea, boxwood, and perennial collections"

RP Town Talk:
          2/14/11 "Friends of the National Arboretum Announces Major Donation"

St. James Leader-Journal:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Seed Bank:
          2/12/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Sentinel Standard:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Siskiyou Daily:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Somervell County Salon:
          1/6/11 "The Threat to the National Arboretum"

Soo Evening News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Steuben Courier:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

The Sun Times:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Taft Midway Driller:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Takoma Park Patch:
          12/4/10 "Anger Growing at Plan to Destroy Azaleas Bred By Takoma Park Resident"
          2/15/11 "Arboretum Suspends Plans to Destroy Azaleas"

Taunton Daily Gazette:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: Plants in Peril" by R. Wayne Mezitt

USA Today:
          11/30/10 "National Arboretum will re-evaluate decision"

Utica Observer-Dispatch:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Victor Post:
          12/9/10 "Offshoots - Rants on plants at the National Arboretum" by Melody Burri
          4/6/11 "Rants on plants, part deux (the plot thickens)" by Melody Burri

WAMU 88,5 FM American University Radio:
          2/14/11 "Anonymous Gift Means Azaleas May Bloom Again" by Sabri Ben-Achour
          5/3/11 "Don't Put Off A Visit To The National Arboretum" by Jeanne Connelly

Washington Blade:
          4/28/11 "Adventuring Outdoors Group schedules Arboretum Azalea Hike"

Washington Examiner:
          2/14/11 "Donor: $1M to save National Arboretum's azaleas"

Washington Gardener:
          11/21/10 "Save the Azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum" by Don Hyatt
          11/24/10 "Save the USNA Azaleas ... and Boxwood, Daylilies, and Daffodils for that matter!" by Kathy Jentz
          2/14/11 "USNA Azalea and Boxwood Collections Get Reprieve" FONA Press Release
          4/15/11 "Save The Azaleas Update" Sarah at FONA

Washington Post:
          11/23/10 "Save the azaleas!" DC-area blogs by Lori Aratani
          11/28/10 "From shrubs to towering controversy: Plan to remove azaleas draws objections" by Adrian Higgins
          11/29/10 "Azalea removal root of dispute" by Adrian Higgins
          12/5/10  "A jewel of D.C.'s spring at risk at the arboretum" By Jeanne Connelly and Felix Laughlin
          12/11/10  "Trims at National Arboretum could mar our cultural landscape" By Joel M. Lerner
          2/15/11  "Arboretum reverses decision to destroy azalea display after public backlash" by Adrian Higgins
          2/28/11  "Where are the angels?" by Petula Dvorak
          3/4/11  "Support your local arboretum - the U.S. National" by Jeanne Connelly
          4/27/11  "Appreciating the beauty of azaleas at the National Arboretum" by Adrian Higgins
          4/29/11  "Perfect Antidote to April Showers? Outdoor tours of May flowers" by Joel M Lerner

Waynesville Daily Guide:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Wellington Daily News:
          2/11/11 "Gardener's Journal: U.S. National Arboretum makes cutbacks" by R. Wayne Mezitt

Weston Nurseries:
          2/24/11 "Public Botanic Gardens" by R. Wayne Mezitt

AzaleaToonWif and Hub:
          11/22/10 Do You Love The National Arboretum Azaleas?

WISN:
          1/16/11 Group Fights To Save National Treasure

WJLA:
          4/26/11 National Arboretum exhibits may fall to budget cuts

WTOP.com:
          2/14/11 Donor: $1M To Save National Arboretum's Azaleas

WUSA9.com:
          2/14/11 Donor: $1M To Save National Arboretum's Azaleas

You Tube:
          12/2/10 You Can Kiss My Hoary Azalea by Claudio Vazquez in Izel Blogs (animation)

Go to Links About the Arboretum           Go to Links to Editorials            Return to Top

How You Can Help
National Arboretum's Statements
News/Archives
Contacts
Links
Editorials
Photos
 ? 

Photos of the Azalea Hillside of the National Arboretum by Don Hyatt

Click on any photo to see large version of it.


Glenn Dale Hillside 1

Glenn Dale Hillside 2

Glenn Dale Hillside 3

Unnamed Bicolor

Unnamed Cream

A-BenMorrison-4922

Arboretum-2285

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Arboretum-2290

Arboretum-2297

Arboretum-2307

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Arboretum-2358

Arboretum-2369

Arboretum-2409

Arboretum-2439

Arboretum-2441

A-Cinderella-2460

Azaleas-Arboretum-2322

Azaleas-Arboretum-2391

Azaleas-Arboretum-2450

Azaleas-Arboretum-2465

Arboretum-2281

Arboretum-2305

Arboretum-2323

Arboretum-2410

Arboretum-2428

Arboretum-2438

Arboretum-2473

Arboretum-2315

Go to Photos                       Return to Top

How You Can Help
National Arboretum's Statements
News/Archives
Contacts
Links
Editorials
Photos
 ? 

Guide To Using This Site

The Red, White, and Blue banners are the navigation bars for using this site. Clicking on a link will take you to one of the following sections:

How You Can Help – describes how you can help Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) save the azaleas, has key points on the value of the Azalea Collections and a Quick Guide to Major Milestones.

National Arboretum's Statements – has statements by Dr. Hefferan, Director of the National Arboretum, from June 8 and Feb 14

News/Archives – was called formerly Correspondence. It has documents and news reports that trace the history of the reason for the savetheazaleas campaign to how it was started and is progressing. It traces correspondence from the first email from President of the Azalea Society of America, Aaron Cook, to the June 8th meeting at the National Arboretum of FONA, stakeholders (concerned horticultural societies), and the Director of the Arboretum, Dr. Hefferan.

Contacts – has contacts for Congress, USDA Administrators, Washington Post, and FONA. These were very important early on when a letter writing campaign was initiated to alert people in positions of power as to the problem.

Links – has links to many informative articles about the Arboretum, many from the Arboretum, Don Hyatt and the Washington Post.

Editorials – has links to editorials about saving the azaleas including TV clips, newspaper articles, blogs, etc.

Photos – has 36 of Don Hyatt's photos of the Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside.

Mission Statement – has this site's mission statement.

Sites Linking Here lists the sites that link to this site: savetheazaleas.org

Index of Authors – lists the names of people which wrote articles and editorials with their own byline.

Site Mission Statement        Sites Linking Here        Index to Authors       Return to Top

Webmaster's Statements and Mission Statement:

Webmaster's Statement to the US National Arboretum on March 10, 2011 at a Stakeholders Meeting:

March 10, 2011.

Dr. Hefferan and members of the National Arboretum Staff and USDA.

Thank you for organizing this meeting. It is very refreshing that you wish to benefit from the expertise that sits in this room.

My heightened involvement began when I heard of plans to arbitrarily solve a problem caused by loss of funding of 2 gardeners in the Asian Valley by destroying many unique and valuable collections.

In the case of the boxwood collection, it represents what is characterized as the most complete collection of boxwood cultivars anywhere in the world.

In the case of the Glenn Dale Azalea collection, it represents the results of, what is probably, the most ambitious effort in the world to develop outstanding, hardy, hybrid evergreen azaleas.

What was even more shocking to me was the reason for targeting the Glenn Dale Azaleas: (quote) some of the plants don’t have labels. (unquote) For a project such as this, a label is the least important attribute of a plant. It is nice if other hybridizers want to duplicate a cross. But the exact cross is of little importance otherwise. Many azalea experts can tell the heritage of a plant by looking at it at various stages and also noting the timing of bud-break compared to other varieties. But, the exact cross is not vital.

1: Some of the parent plants of the Glenn Dale Azaleas are of unknown origin. Some examples are:

'Hatasushimo'
'Gibiyama'
'Ho-oden'
'Malvatica'

2nd: Some of the named Glenn Dale Azaleas are of unknown origin. Some examples are:

'Epilogue'
'Juneglow'

3rd: Some of the Glenn Dale Azaleas, originally unnamed, have been found to be outstanding and have been named. Azalea 'Ben Morrison' is the most notable in this group.

And, 4th: some of the named Glenn Dale Azaleas have disappeared from the trade and the only hope of finding their germplasm is here at the US National Arboretum.

Ben Morrison selected Mt. Hamilton as the location to plant the best of his newly developed hardy evergreen azaleas because he knew that it (quote) assures better air circulation and soil drainage. It also assures good movement of soil moisture and tends to check late-summer growth, so that new wood is safely ripened. (unquote)

This doesn’t even consider that the azaleas on Mt. Hamilton have become one of Washington, DC’s, prime tourist attractions each spring.

I am suggesting that before far reaching decisions are made, an evaluation of the consequences be made by qualified experts. That alternatives be considered. That wholesale destruction at significant cost may not be the best alternative. Sometimes doing nothing for a year or two may be a better alternative.

Thank you for this opportunity to express my concerns.

Stephen M. Henning
President, Valley Forge Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society


Webmaster's Comments to the US National Arboretum submitted on Feb. 27, 2011:

Feb. 27, 2011.

I applaud the US National Arboretum for suspending actions to remove a number of its most valuable and most popular collections, all because funding for 2 gardeners in the Asian Valley was removed.

Scott Aker's stated reason for the entire problem is he will loose funding for two additional gardeners in the Asian Valley. Then he proposes cannibalizing the azalea, boxwood and perennial collections because of the problem in the Asian Valley. Perhaps he should spend his time and energy solving the problem in the Asian Valley. He hasn't mentioned any problems in the other areas other than the ones he is creating himself.

Future decisions must consider their impact on:

  1. The uniqueness of the collection and hence value to future hybridizing.
  2. The past contributions of Arboretum volunteers and donors.
  3. The significance of the collection to Horticulturists throughout the world.
  4. Whether doing nothing or waiting may be better than spending money to be destructive.
  5. Whether appeals for volunteers and interns have been exhausted.
  6. Whether appeals for private funding have been exhausted.

There are national and international Societies with immense expertise to act as consultants and assist with many Arboretum challenges. These societies have provided volunteers for the Arboretum in the past. These Societies have commercial members with the ability to sponsor collections.

One model that works very well for the City of Portland, Oregon, at it's beautiful 9 acre Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, is to charge an admission fee between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, Thursday through Monday, March through Labor Day. Admission is free to all from the day after Labor Day through the month of February.

I would suggest recognizing the Golden Eagle pass, providing passes for FONA, and have other season passes for purchase and for volunteers. I would also encourage field trips from Societies working with the Arboretum and let them know that there is a way to contribute money that will augment Arboretum support, not just cause the Arboretum to loose public (taxpayer) support.

Good luck in all future endeavors, and may they expand the impact and value of the National Arboretum. It is a wonderful place. Let's keep it that way.

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The Mission Statement for this Website:

U.S. National Arboretum Gardens Unit Leader Scott Aker announced plans to destroy a national treasure, 10,000 Glenn Dale Azaleas on Mt. Hamilton, after the 2011 blooming season. Interim Arboretum Director Ramon Jordan confirmed the plans.

Both stated the reason was a pending loss of private funding which was exclusively for use in a different area of the Arboretum, the Asian Valley.

This doesn't make any sense at all since the Curator of the Azalea Collection uses unpaid volunteers to maintain the Glenn Dale Azaleas on Mt. Hamilton. In fact, it would cost more to remove the Glenn Dale Azaleas then to just leave them in place and let the volunteers maintain them. This is a tragic and misguided use of federal funds.

Some view this as a ploy to get more private funding. By threatening to destroy the most popular collection in the Arboretum, they may hope to secure private donations that would actually be used in other parts of the Arboretum since the azalea collection is maintained by unpaid volunteers.

The Glenn Dale Azaleas draw thousands of visitors each spring. These are the azaleas that the USDA hybridized and grew in the National Arboretum to develop hardy strains of evergreen azaleas. Almost every winter-hardy hybrid evergreen azalea variety came from or descended from this group at the National Arboretum.

Horticulturist Benjamin Y. Morrison worked for over 25 years to create this superior group of winter-hardy azaleas with large, colorful flowers suitable for the Washington, DC region. In 1946-47, Morrison planted approximately 15,000 of the best azaleas from his work at the USDA's Glenn Dale research station on the south face of Mt. Hamilton at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

In 1949, the Arboretum opened to the public for the first time during the azalea bloom. The Azalea Society of America calls it the country's premier reference collection. The U.S. National Arboretum is probably the best repository of genetic diversity in evergreen azaleas anywhere in the world and I hope that it will remain so.

The importance of the Glenn Dale Azaleas to ornamental horticulture make this misuse of federal funds a tragic mistake.

The website savetheazaleas.org puts together in one place the documents pertinent to this problem. It is the sincere hope of the webmaster that knowledge of this problem reaches everyone who is in a position to apply pressure to stop this insanity before axes, saws, and herbicides destroy this national treasure.

Steve Henning, webmaster


A copy of the Mission Statement in a format suitable for editing is available.

Also visit the webmasters statements to the National Arboretum on Feb. 27, 2011 and Mar. 10, 2011.

Thank you for visiting this site. I hope it inspires you to help Save The Azaleas at the National Arboretum.

Thanks to the many websites that have linked to this website.

, President, Valley Forge Chapter, American Rhododendron Society

All Gardening SitesGuide To This Site       Sites Linking Here        Index to Authors       Return to Top

Thanks to these websites for linking to savetheazaleas.org

Actly

Active Rain- Maryland Real Estate Blog

Adventuring.org

American Boxwood Society

Azalea Society of America

BCDemocratOnline.com

Beltsville Garden Club

Bonsai Beginnings

Cape St. Claire Garden Club

Cascade Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Causes.com

Central Virginia Gardeners

Daily Kos

DonaldHyatt.com

E Ethelbert Miller

Fishing Creek Herb Guild

Friends of Bryan Park

Friends of Forest Hill Park, Richmond, Virginia

Garden Club of Virginia

Garden Club Salon

Garden Rant

The Garden Traveler

GardenWeb

Glouster Master Gardeners

The Great Big Greenhouse and Nursery

Great Lakes Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Happy Medium

Henning's Rhododendron and Azalea Pages

Hillside Gardening Forum

Historic Garden Week in Virginia

Izel Native Plants for your Garden

The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Leader Journal - Gardener's Journal

Linn County Leader - Gardener's Journal

Mason-Dixon Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Massachusetts Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Massachusetts Horticultural Society

MDHorticulture.org

Meetup

MetroWest Daily News - Gardener's Journal

Michigan State University

Milford Daily News - Gardener's Journal

MPNnow.com

MtShastaNews.com

My Fox

National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society

National Garden Clubs, Inc.

NBC Washington

NCNewsPress

New England Gardening Forum

Niagara Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada

Northern Virginia Chapter of the Azalea Society of America

The Ojo Nnamdi Show

Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Princeton Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Rhododendron & Azalea News - American Rhododendron Society

Richmond Bonsai Society

Richmond Heights Garden Club

Richmond Virginia - Go Green

Shockoe Community Garden

Shrewsbury Garden Club

Siskiyou Daily - Gardener's Journal

Somerville Journal - Gardener's Journal

Strange's Florist

Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Taft Midway Driller- Gardener's Journal

Takoma Park Patch

Three In DC

Union County Master Gardeners

USA Today

Valley Forge Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom

Virginia Orchid Society

Washington Blade

Washington Gardener Magazine

the Washington Post

Weston Nurseries

Wikipedia

Willamette Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society

WISN.com

Yahoo!Groups Azaleas

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Thanks to the Authors of Articles regarding the National Arboretum

Dr. William L. Ackerman

Lori Aratani

Harold Belcher

Sabri Ben-Achour

Hale Booth

Melody Burri

Maria Helena Carey

Dennis Carter

Lupe Chavez

Jeanne Connelly

Aaron Cook

Chris Currie

Don Davis

Carissa Dimargo

Petula Dvorak

Matthew Gilmore

Susan Harris

Colien Hefferan

Steve Henning

Adrian Higgins

Ann Hohenberger

Don Hyatt

Kathy Jentz

Tom Johnson

Ramon Jordan

Janice L. Kaplan

Maura Kelly

Sandy Lange

Felix Laughlin

Frederick P. Lee

Joel M. Lerner

Dr. Roy Magruder

Harriet McLeod

R. Wayne Mezitt

William C. Miller III

Aaron Morrissey

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rindy O’Brien

P. J. Orvetti

Nancy Peck

Bo Petersen

Meta Pettus

Ron Rabideau

Anne Raver

Tom Schuetz

Mark Segraves

Barbara Shea

Tom Sherwood

Henry Skinner (1968)

J. J. Smith

Monica Smith

Bob Stelloh

Claudio Vazquez

Brendan Williams-Kief

Margaret Woda

Stephanie Yao

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