Thursday, April 25, 2013

National Arboretum Azalea Collection

The collection of azaleas initially was planted in 1947 at the National Arboretum in northeast Washington DC. 1,500 azaleas in groups of 10-15 of each variety. That was expanded over the years bringing the whole wooded area to 40 acres of azalea filled woodland and some formal gardens featuring Azaleas of all sorts and colors.

Last year we almost lost most of the older plants due to lack of funding to maintain them and spending freezes from the crazy government budget stalemate. They were going to cut most of the older azaleas down and thereby lessen the work load for that part of the arboretum... anyway the community said NO! With money donated and extra volunteer hours given, the community managed to keep one staff person named Barbara, who we met yesterday.

The display lasts about a month from beginning to end giving you more time to go see than the famous Washington Cherry blossoms that only last a few days. Keith and I took our lunch, sun hats and cameras to take a tour walking for a couple hours in this wonderland and it was good. Here are some of my favorite photos from our tour.

Entrance to the Azalea Collection path 

creeping phlox a pretty ground cover under the red azaleas

Native woodland may apples are the green leaves  covering the forest floor

Keith zooms in with his telephoto lens to get close ups 

This reminds me of a real red azalea we had in front of our home when I was a child living in Springfield VA.  

Native type of orange azalea I saw in the appalachian mountains as a child.

May apple flowers under the canopy of the bright green leaves

truly a yellow azalea

formal garden with boxwood hedges is where we ate our lunch

we really did enjoy our walk

Some of the restored azaleas which were cut back in March to spur new growth 

Some of the work that needs to be done is removing by hand invasive English Ivy.

Eastern Towhee was one of many birds we heard singing in the woods.
Towhee songs played here: Eastern Towhee birdsong I enjoyed hearing the song while I was loading the photos... 

The other thing I want to say is there is no way to reproduce the feeling of awe and wonder of being surrounded by all these colors and sounds and smells. Photos are fun but they only go so far in conveying the experience. This weekend Friends of the National Arboretum have their annual spring plant sale Friday and Saturday. Money raised at the sale help keep things going while the government is underfunding this national treasure.

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