This story just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. I was first alerted that the National Arboretum has plans to literally destroy part of its historic Azalea Collection next season by a horticulturist friend in Baltimore, of all places. I passed the word along and almost immediately Kathy Jentz had posted an angry rant about it from the Azalea Society (oh, you don't want to see an angry azalea-hugger in action!) That link includes responses from the poor Arb official tasked with answering questions about the decision (Scott Aker, a friend whose job I don't envy right now).
Next, I inquired of some insiders at the Arb and learned that a long-time contributor was ending his or her support, so yes indeedy, the decision had been made to "de-accession" (kill) not just some magnificant old azaleas but the Perennials Collection and the Boxwood Collection, too. As I then ranted for a local garden center, why is this the first any of us have heard about the funding crisis, and only through inside-gardening gossip? Ya think they could have first tried to, um, rally for more funds, from private or government sources?
Of course, before you can say "Save the Azaleas", there's a Facebook cause to that effect, which you're all invited to join. Or just click on either of blog links above for email addresses of the higher-ups in charge of the Arboretum – higher-ups within the U.S. Department of Ag. (Yes, this is DC and the feds are everywhere!)
The news has already gone viral in the DC region; let's see if it can go national.