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National Arboretum's Unlabled Plants

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  • Steve Henning
    When National Arboretum Unit Leader, Scott Aker, disparaged the Glenn Dale hillside, he stated, No labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2011
      When National Arboretum Unit Leader, Scott Aker, disparaged the Glenn Dale hillside, he stated, "No labels have been found attached to any plant so that we can know its provenance beyond conjecture. This does not fit the rigorous standard we require for plant records."

      Apparently his standards are far different than those of Ben Morrison who founded both the Glenn Dale Azaleas and the National Arboretum.  Ben Morrison found "unknown" plants of extreme merit and even named some "unknown" plants.  Here are some of Ben Morrison's favorite named unknowns:

      Hatsushimo, old Kurume hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
      Gibiyama, old Kurume hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
      Yozakura, old Kurume or Satsuki hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
      Ho-oden, old Kurume or Mucronatum hybrid used extensively in breeding Glenn Dale Azaleas
      Malvatica, an unknown plant found in a shipment of Mucronatum from Japan used extensively
      Epilogue, an undocumented but named Glenn Dale Azalea
      Juneglow, a undocumented but named Glenn Dale Azalea

      And, of course, sports such as Grace Freeman are in a unique category of known but different.

      In this day of DNA analysis, nothing is unknown, it is just unlabeled.

      One of the best Glenn Dale Azaleas of all time, Ben Morrison, was overlooked when Morrison named the Glenn Dale Azaleas and was named and registered after Morrison's death.  There are other outstanding plants that haven't been named.

      Morrison did one other thing that he documented in USDA Monograph No. 20, that Scott Aker doesn't appreciate.  He intentionally planted his azaleas on Mt. Hamilton in the National Arboretum because "better air circulation as well as soil drainage is assured.  A hilly site also assures good movement of soil moisture and tends to check late-summer growth normally, so that new wood is safely ripened."  If the National Arboretum destroys all of the azaleas on Mt. Hamilton as it plans, it will be removing premier plants from the premier location.

      If you want to see how you can help save the Glenn Dale Azaleas on Mt. Hamilton, visit savetheazaleas.org 

      Steve Henning, Reading, PA, USA   Zone 6

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