Our friends at DCist join in the handwringing today that I thought was confined to the hysterical tones of neighborhood listserves- Yes, everyone. The National Arboretum is planning to take out several (up to 10,000) mature azalea shrubs due to the loss of some grant money used to maintain them. Oh, the humanity!
I like azaleas too, but what everyone seems to be missing is that 10,000 plants is still less than 20% of the entire azalea collection at the Arboretum. That means that even after they’re removed, there will still be over 40,000 azaleas for us to ooh and ahh over each spring. Really.
Meanwhile, the azaleas being removed are ones for which there are no records that would aid the facility’s plant breeders, which, you may recall, is the purpose of the Arboretum: it holds the plants the Agricultural Research Service is using to develop new hybrids.
So the plan is to remove the ones without scientific value so they can concentrate their limited resources on maintaining the (just as beautiful! just as free to gawk at!) plants that actually aid in furthering their mission. Most of the plants removed will be concentrated one location that will no doubt shortly be covered in plants that actually further the facility’s botanical research. You won’t even know they’re gone.
If you’re that concerned about saving them, make a donation to the Arboretum so their limited resources will be less limited.