Friday, December 3, 2010

azalea rescue part #2

Almost immediately after I posted the shocking story the letters from Arboretum decision makers began to appear on the list serves refuting and trying to explain the story in a different way. I waited to see what would come of the excited blogosphere's out cries over the holiday weekend. Thanksgiving passed happily.  I found a part two, on Washington Gardener's magazine, with a reply and a commentary saying the directors at USNA aren't talking straight. Makes me feel bad that they want to still cut down 20-25% of the azaleas which happen to be the biggest and oldest ones in the woods most of them 50 to 60 years old! Part two Save the USNA azaleas. 

I took an unusual step and wrote to my only congressional representative about the problem and today I got a response which is very gratifying. (see reply below) I also got word that my friend in Holland, Cor Windhouwer wrote to Interim Director Jordan Ramon PhD. He got the three excuses letter last weekend. Now the Congresswoman is asking questions and our pleas for help are being heard. Good work activists! Keep the pressure on write your Federal government representatives and ask them to add your voice for funding the full Arboretum's needs. 

December 2, 2010

Mr. Frederick L. Nunley

xxxxx 10th St. NE 

Washington, D.C. 20017

Dear Mr. Nunley:

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, which is kept up-to-date on what I am doing in 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


Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

Here is the response letter Cor received in resply to his letter pointing out how crazy it would be to destroy the Azaleas. It sounds reasonable until you read the commentary about what exactly he is talking about cutting out of the colletion... See Garden Magazine post part two

Hello Cor Windhouwer,

Thank you for writing to Drs. St. John, Spence, and/or myself to express your concerns about the U.S. National Arboretum’s plans to remove portions of one or more of our collections.  There are a few inaccuracies circulating that I’d like to resolve.  First, what you may have not heard is 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.  Without permanent sustained funding to support the minimum number of staff needed to develop and maintain all of our collections, we have determined that we have little choice but to de-accession certain collections.  
Second, 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. One of the collections identified for de-accessioning includes a portion of the Azalea Collection (only the unpedigreed azaleas, for which we cannot justify long-term maintenance). The other area is the National Boxwood and Perennials Collection. 

Third, this action would NOT mean removal of all azaleas at the Arboretum.  It would simply mean that we’d take out the plants in the collection for which we don’t really have documentation of pedigree; native trees or meadow plants will be planted to restore the area.  As funding becomes available, we’d use that space for pedigreed Glenn Dale azaleas, organized in a way that it will look great and make the most use of the (future) limited gardening staff availability.

Most importantly, we do appreciate your passion and support for one of our major seasonal attractions at the National Arboretum.  In the short term, we will look at other alternatives to de-accessioning that might exist.  In the long term, we will take an aggressive look at other funding mechanisms to ensure that we can continue to provide the public with the opportunity to enjoy the U.S. National Arboretum.  I would be happy to speak with you to discuss ways in which you could help support this or any one of our 15 gardens and collections at the U.S. National Arboretum. 

Thanks again for your support,

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

No comments: