Arboretum to host plant sale featuring new Auburn Azalea series

Published: April 04, 2016
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The Davis Arboretum will host a native azalea sale Saturday, April 9, from 8 a.m. to noon featuring the new Auburn Azalea series. The Auburn Azalea series is a collection of hybrid native azaleas that are planted throughout campus, including Samford Lawn, the President’s House and the Davis Arboretum, and come in various colors, including multiple shades of orange.

Gardeners will enjoy the showy and colorful blooms combined with the hardiness and long bloom season of the Auburn Azaleas. Newly planted native azaleas require regular watering, but once established are resilient and can withstand drought and the intense heat of summer. The plants will grow in partial shade, full shade or full sun; and prefer moist, well-drained soil along streams, rivers and lakes.

To ensure genetic accuracy, each of the plants sold in the Auburn Azalea series are grown from tissue culture. Plants in the series come in a variety of colors and can be purchased each A-Day at the Davis Arboretum’s spring plant sale. Auburn Azaleas can also be purchased at the fall plant sale or by mail order from Oct. 1 to March 1. All proceeds from the plant sales directly benefit the Davis Arboretum.

The native hybrids in the Auburn Azalea series represent more than three decades of breeding trials and tireless dedication of Auburn scientists, faculty and staff, including the late professor of fisheries R. O’Neal "Smitty" Smitherman; the late dean of the College of Agriculture Dennis Rouse; retired researcher at Auburn's Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station Tom Corley; and retired Auburn University professor of music and composer Robert Greenleaf. These scientists planted, hybridized and nurtured thousands of plants in the process of developing the specimens represented in the Auburn Azalea series.

Plants in the series come in a variety of shades of orange, yellow, pink, red and magenta and include: ‘Aubie,’ ‘Baker Dean,’ (named by the late Opelika resident and wildflower expert Caroline Dean in honor of her late husband), ‘Corley’s Cardinal,’ ‘Patsy’s Pink’ (named by Smitherman in honor of his wife, Patsy), ‘Plainsman,’ ‘Rouse’s Rose,’ ‘Samford Sorbet,’ ‘Tiger’ and ‘War Eagle.’

"Often people don’t realize how unique these native azaleas are, especially the beautiful orange flowering bushes displayed prominently around campus, until they graduate and realize how unusual they are to see in the landscape," said Davis Arboretum specialist Patrick Thompson. "The Auburn Azalea series represents a unique Auburn tradition, and part of our effort with the series is to get this Auburn tradition into the public’s reach so that people can plant a little bit of Auburn wherever they go. We want to share the work of Auburn gardeners and geneticists with the Auburn Family so that future generations will also be able to share in the beauty."

For more information, visit the Davis Arboretum website at www.auburn.edu/arboretum.