Azalea City

azaleaHave you been enjoying the wonderful azalea color-splash this spring? Takoma Park and Silver Spring are awash in pink, red, white, and purple blooms.

A certain Washington Post garden columnist calls them over-used and garish, but we cannot get enough of them every spring! From native varieties to Asian hybrids, there is a perfect azalea for most every local garden. They dazzle in shades of shimmering pinks and pale peaches to deep reds and pure white.

You can put together collection of early-, mid-and late-season blooming varieties and have an azalea flowering in your garden for six months or more.

Plant them where they can attain their full size and you will never need to prune them. They do not love to be in hot afternoon sun and prefer an acidic soil, but basically they are low-maintenance and rewarding shrubs.

The new Encore Azaleas and Bloom-A-Thon hybrids promise re-blooming throughout the growing season. They do so sporadically and never have the huge, full flush of the regular azaleas.

The native (East Coast) azaleas come in striking hues of yellow, orange, and peach. They are less compact plants and so take up more space in the garden. They also are pickier about their soils and require excellent drainage.

Takoma Park history is saturated with azalea blooms. According to Historic Takoma. “Benjamin Y. Morrison, the famed horticulturalist who was the founder and first director of the National Arboretum. Morrison is noted for cross-breeding different strains of azaleas to produce the Glenn Dale azaleas, which are prevalent today throughout the eastern United States.” Morrison lived near Piney Branch Road and many of his Glenn Dale introductions can be seen throughout the city’s gardens and parks as well as at the US National Arboretum. The Takoma Horticultural Club has recently gifted several Glenn Dale azaleas to the city to replace those lost over the decades.


~ Sunday, May 5, 1-5pm, 40th Annual Takoma Park House and Garden Tour
“Pioneer to Present Day” will showcase homes on Westmoreland, Elm, Pine, Montgomery, and Hickory Avenues/ For the last four decades the Takoma Park House and Garden Tour has been held on the first Sunday in May. On Sunday May 5, tickets and brochures will be available at the Old Town Takoma Gazebo (map), located at 7035 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Urban Park. For those who have purchased tickets early from local stores, bring your tickets and the brochures with Tour map will be provided at the Old Town Takoma Gazebo. Tickets for the 2013 Takoma Park House and Garden Tour are $20 per person on the day of the Tour, rain or shine, and must be worn and visible during the duration of Tour. More than 12 properties will be on the Tour.

~ Saturday, May 11, GardenMart, 9:00am-1:00pm, Wheaton, MD
The annual Silver Spring Garden Club GardenMart benefit plant sale held at Brookside Gardens features locally sourced and grown plants including unique varieties or tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The club also sells special selections of native plants, deer-resistant plants, and shade-loving plants. The sale benefits the club’s educational activities. For more information, contact: Kathy Jentz, SSGC President,, 301-588-6894. Directions and details at

~ Monday, May 20, Eat Your Roses: Edible Flowers Talk, 8:00 pm, Brookside Gardens, Visitors Center/Education Building, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, Maryland Find out what edible flowers you can cultivate to add a bit of color and flavor to your cooking. Our featured speaker is author Denise Schreiber. This talk is hosted by the Silver Spring Garden Club. Doors open at 7:30pm. This event is Free. It is open to the public. For directions:

~ Sunday, May 19, 2:30-4pm, Takoma Horticultural Club’s Spring Plant Exchange, Heffner Park, Takoma Park, MD
Bring plants and take home new plants. It is Member’s Only, but you can join at the event by coming a few minutes early.

About the Author:

Kathy Jentz is Editor of Washington Gardener Magazine. This article was originally published in the January/February 2009 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine. It is reprinted with permission.
Washington Gardener magazine, is the only gardening publication published specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs.
The magazine is written entirely by local area gardeners. They have real-world knowledge and practical advice with the same problems you experience in your own gardens. They share their thoughts on what to plant in deep shade, how to cover bare spots, which annuals work best throughout the humid DC summers, and much more. If you are a DC area gardener, you’ll love Washington Gardener magazine!
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About the Author

Kathy Jentz
Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener magazine and is a long-time DC area gardening enthusiast. Washington Gardener is all about gardening where you live. She can be reached at @WDCgardener on Twitter and welcomes your local DMV gardening questions.

2 Comments on "Azalea City"

  1. Diana Kohn | May 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

    City Gardener Mike Welsh has compiled a list of best places to view azaleas, starting with city display parks:
    + Memorial Park and Democratic and Republican Park @ Philadelphia & Maple Avenues
    + City Library’s Slope to the rear of its parking lot
    + Hodges Heights (Field) Park also Stewart M. Armstrong @ Philadelphia & Holly Avenues
    + Lower Portal @ Philadelphia & Piney Branch Road (Chestnut Avenue side)
    + Upper Portal @ Piney Branch Road & Eastern Avenue
    + Belle Zeigler Park @ Buffalo & Takoma Avenues
    + Thomas/Seigler Carriage House on Tulip Avenue between Maple & Cedar Avenues

    As for residential – the highest concentration of residential azaleas in the City are located in Ward 1, bound on the west by Piney Branch, east by Spruce Avenue, south by Eastern Ave and north by Philadelphia Ave. These are nearest Morrison home on Chestnut (now Piney Branch).

  2. Thanks, Diana! This is a terrific list and I hope many of our fellow local citizens take advantage and visit Takoma Park’s wonderful public parks. I often walk by the Upper Portal Park on the way to the Takoma metro and thanks to Mike Welsh and his crew, it is always stunning in every season.

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