The American Public Gardens Association has recognized The Connecticut College Arboretum’s North American Native Deciduous Azalea Collection as a Nationally Accredited Plant Collection.
This accreditation is the standard of excellence in plant collections management, acknowledging the Arboretum’s commitment to the conservation and care of native azaleas curated at the highest professional level. The application and evaluation process took place over the past year, with extensive study and documentation of plants in the collection culminating in a day-long series of tours and interviews with an outside expert.
Currently, the Arboretum has 192 deciduous native azalea shrubs representing 15 different species. Connecticut College Professor Emeritus of Botany Sally Taylor, with her deep appreciation of native azaleas, was the driving force behind the creation of a native azalea garden. When a donor stepped forward, The Nancy Moss Fine Native Azalea Garden was established in 1978 as a memorial to Nancy Moss Fine ’51, who majored in psychology at Connecticut College.
“The native azaleas are spectacular in flower with colors ranging from white to pink to yellow, orange, red and combinations of these colors. The plants in our collection provide flowers from April to August,” said Mary Villa, curator of the Connecticut College Arboretum. “With the range of colors, bloom time and fragrance, native azaleas are a beautiful, low-maintenance addition to any garden.”
For the Arboretum, native is defined as plants indigenous to eastern North America. Many of the Arboretum’s azaleas are not native to the state of Connecticut, but are hardy in the near-coastal location. Two Connecticut native species are Pinxterbloom Azalea and Swamp Azalea, which bloom in May and June into July, respectively.
The American Public Gardens Association is the leading professional organization for the field of public horticulture. The organization advances the field by encouraging best practices, offering educational and networking opportunities, and advocating on behalf of their members, their programs and public gardens worldwide. Since 1940, the organization has been committed to increasing cooperation and awareness among gardens. Members include more than 600 institutions, spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and 24 countries.
The Arboretum is open to the public every day of the year from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.