Can a blogger firestorm save some beloved gardens?


Many of us contacted Adrian Higgins at the Washington Post about the planned destruction of azaleas and boxwoods at the National Arbnoretum, (Rant story here) and his story about the brouha-ha appeared today.  My favorite quote?

A plan to cut down thousands of mature shrubs at the National Arboretum has ignited a blogosphere firestorm of dismay and rage from azalea lovers who flock to the federally owned botanical garden each spring.

The reaction has given Ramon Jordan, the arboretum's interim director, pause, though plans are still in the works to take out as many as 10,000 mature azaleas if Jordan cannot replace the loss of an annual grant.

"I have 97 e-mails I just replied to personally," Jordan said. "The outpouring is awesome."

Is the lesson here "Don't mess with azaleas," "Don't mess with gardenbloggers", or both?


  1. I don’t understand how much maintenance these plants “need”. Does “need” mean “require to keep looking neat” or will this collection actually die if it doesn’t receive work equivalent to this money?

  2. I think the word accountability comes into play no matter what is in the news lately. Like someone else has mentioned, if you don’t have the funds to develop that area of the arboretum into something else why would you destroy the collection now? From what I hear they aren’t spending any money on that area now so it isn’t costing anything to continue as is. To destroy the collection would just come off poorly and weaken public support.

  3. Susan, for whatever it’s worth, I write a weekly gardening column in the Victor, NY Post newspaper, and the one that should appear in this week’s issue is about this. We have lots of garden clubs and avid gardeners in western NY, and it’s something I thought people need to know about. I’m also going to talk about it at a district garden club meeting this Wednesday. I’ll reach as many people as I can – it’s that important!

  4. Its great that so many folks raised their voices and that was noticed. But I agree, the next step is to put your money where your mouth is. Raising money is incredibly difficult. Raising money to maintain an older project is much harder than raising money for a new project. There are realities of keeping shrubs alive and beautiful and there are different realities in fundraising world.

    If each person who wrote an email or gave a talk about this just gave $5 it would mean so much more than angry voices.

  5. I’m curious like tai haku. How does 10K mature azaleas translate to $110K? It takes $11/yr to keep an azalea alive, or am I missing some major budget point? They could make it a volunteer, community service, or work release effort, whatever the particulars are.

    Also, I really don’t care for azaleas, but this is a matter of principle. So I support them here.

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