April 3 | April 20 | April 27 | May 14
Experience the National Arboretum's treasured Azalea Collections
Spring is upon us once again, and the National Arboretum is rich with bloom – from the spring ephemerals to the daffodils,
magnolias and cherries planted throughout the grounds. This column which begins today and will change each week for the
next eight weeks will focus specifically on our Azalea Collections and the status of bloom.
The best time to schedule your visit is on a weekday, but if weekends are your only option, a stroll through the garden before noon or during a light rain offers an enviable second choice. A drive around Azalea Road can be exhilarating because of the views of the collection, but if you can afford the time to take a walk, it is worthwhile. Pick up a brochure at one of the three major entrances to the collections or at the Visitor Information center and begin your journey into the world of azaleas.
Learn more about the Azalea Collection here. For more in-depth information on growing and caring for rhododendrons or azaleas, check out the FAQ pages here. Visit our Azalea Photo Gallery where you will find over 200 images of the flowers of more than 100 of the Glenn Dale azalea varieties.
In the meantime, check back here each week as we update you on the current conditions in this year's Azalea Blossom Watch.
Greetings to our friends and guests!
Peak Bloom Prediction
Bald Eagle Nest On Glenn Dale Hillside
This week, the Azalea Collection has many buds showing a hint of color forecasting the brilliant display to come in the next few weeks. Last week, temperatures soared to the low 80’s. This is quite warm for the early flowering plants like daffodils and many of the cherries and magnolias, speeding up their blooming period. The warm temperatures will also speed up the opening of early azaleas.
Early species such as Rhododendron mucronulatum, and the Weston hybrids are in bloom today. They consistently flower at the same time that forsythia in is full bloom. The evergreen azaleas that are showing color this week include many of the Glenn Dales which are planted in and around the Morrison Azalea Garden, and the reliable but beautiful Kurume azaleas found along the Henry Mitchell Cultivar Walk. A few of our native deciduous species such as Rhododendron austrinum (the Florida Flame Azalea) will be in bloom by the end of the week.
For information on when and how to prune azaleas, when the best time to plant and transplant azaleas and much more, check out our FAQ link at: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/azaleafaq1.html.
See you in the garden.
Peak bloom for the Azalea Collection will be the weekend of May 2nd and 3rd, producing a spectacular show of color. Cool temperatures in early April delayed many of the earlier blooming plants such as the dogwoods, the Weston hybrid azaleas, and lilacs. Additionally , the cooler temperatures we’ve experienced this week has extended their blooming period along with the earlier evergreen azaleas known as the Kurume hybrids.
The Kurume azaleas were brought to North America from Japan. The Kurumes are hybrids of numerous species from Japan, and according to E. H. Wilson [Plant Hunting, Vol. II, and A Monograph of Azaleas,] they were developed by Mr. Motozo Sakamoto, a Japanese samurai, in the 19th Century. In the early 20th Century, they were widely cultivated and given new cultivar names like ‘Snow’, ‘Hino-Crimson’, and ‘Coral Bells’. They became a mainstay of American gardens where azaleas thrive. They were also used extensively in the breeding of the National Arboretum’s Glenn Dale azaleas. Earliest to bloom, and having a nice form, they are in bloom today in the Azalea Collection. Pictured here, ‘Osaraku’ is lavender with a white center, tinged with greenish yellow for a lovely garden effect.
The Glenn Dale Azalea Hillside is filling in after the azaleas were rejuvenated several years ago. This year, about 60% of the hillside is closed off to the public due to a family of bald eagles nesting there for the first time in over 60 years. With Azalea Road closed and a large section of the hillside closed, we recommend that you consider parking in the main lot, and walk into the collection of hybrids we have been assembling as a reference collection since the late 1950’s.
See you in the garden!
The time to visit the Azalea Collection is now! The collection is in spectacular form. Our later spring, combined with the mild temperatures we are experiencing, has made this one of the better years to view the later blooming azaleas.
The mid-season azaleas are currently in bloom. In addition to breeding for larger flowers, a primary goal of the Glenn Dale azalea hybridization project was to extend the blooming season. The Glenn Dale group tolerates the warmer temperatures occurring in May. They and the Robin Hill hybrids represent the majority of the mid-season bloomers, which are located thoughout the collections A few of the azaleas in bloom this week include ‘Ben Morrison’, ‘Glacier’, ‘Boldface’, ‘Mayflower’, ‘Galathea’, ‘Kobold’, and ‘Fawn’. There are many others as well. Larger leafed rhododendrons and deciduous cultivars and species are also in bloom, including R. austrinum, R. calendulaceum, R. atlanticum, R. oblongifolium, and R. molle. ‘Zoe Graves’ and ‘Caroline Gable’ are representative of the large-leaf rhododendrons.
In the next few weeks, the late-season blooming azaleas will be coming into their prime. Many of these are planted in and around the Lee Garden. Other later blooming evergreen and deciduous azaleas, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels will also be in bloom during the next few weeks.Enjoy the display and take time to appreciate the wide variety of color, form, and size of these wonderful shrubs. See you in the garden!
See you in the garden!
Click here for images of the collection.
Last Updated May 14, 2015 3:23 PM
URL = http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/azaleablossom.html