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DC Azalea Collection Oasis of Beauty, Peace


In the middle of one of the busiest and most crowded areas of Washington D.C. there is an oasis of peace. And every year around this time, the U.S. National Arboretum blossoms with thousands of azaleas. Producer Zulima Palacio takes us on a visit there. Jeffrey Young narrates the story.

Come on; walk with us up the path. This is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in America's capital city.

This is the azalea collection at the U.S. National Arboretum. Fifteen-thousand of them, spread over 16 hectares of forested hillside. Most of these azaleas are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year.

Barbara Bullock has been the horticulturist in charge of the collection for the last 17 years. "The azalea collection was the number one reason that the arboretum was opened to the public."

Soon after Washington's more celebrated Cherry Blossom Festival, the National Arboretum's azaleas are in full bloom from April through June.

"I don't know how many species there are,” admits Bullock. “There are 7,000 cultivar in the reference book I use. There are about seven main range of colors, but in every one of those colors, there are shades and tints, blends. There are hundreds and thousands of different ways the colors are manifested."

One azalea is a Glenn Dale cultivar with a unique combination of solid and striped blossoms on the same plant. Another has a different color combination on the same branch.

The multitude of colors, the fragrance, birds and paths, make this azalea collection in Washington, an oasis of peace and beauty. Those who know the secrets of this place keep coming here year after year.

"If people find out about it, well, it would be great!" says Bullock proudly.

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