The Azalea Story Gets Juicier


Writer Joel Lerner has added another twist to the mystery of the Plan to Kill Beloved Azaleas at the National Arboretum (the gardening world around DC has talked about nothing else for days now).  Click here to read Joel's passionate defense of the Arboretum's azaleas and boxwoods, at the end of which he drops this intriguing little nugget:

People who support reducing the number of plant collections at the Arboretum believe that the garden administration has finally come to its senses and that these changes would allow more native plants to be installed.

So contrary to speculation, it may not be bureaucratic in-fighting after all, but something bigger – disapproval of "alien" plants. 

In any event, special interests and general Arboretum watchers alike are now discussing the options openly and making their wishes known.  I just hope the Arb has learned its lesson about trying to take drastic, irreversible actions in secret.  For crissakes.


  1. I don’t believe the Azalea or other collections are in danger over not being native. Think that is Joel Lerner’s and others in the native-fan world’s wishful thinking. The USDA/USNA are pursuing many plant breeding/introduction programs and natives are not their focus. In fact, expansion of Asian species exploration and research (cross-breeding with our natives) is the current direction they are headed.

  2. Disapproval of alien plants can definitely fall within bureaucratic infighting, especially when the removal of such plants is ridiculously cumbersome and would benefit certain parties and contractors (those who might remove and replace such horrible aliens).

    I can’t see how there would be much to gain from removing so many established plants unless they intend to turn the whole area into a farm.

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