Support your local arboretum - the U.S. National

Friday, March 4, 2011; 9:18 PM

In her March 1 column, "Azaleas are nice, but don't forget more critical needs," Petula Dvorak pointed out out that our region has many worthy causes. I couldn't agree more.

Each cause has its supporters. In our case, one donor made a generous contribution in support of the endangered azalea and boxwood collections. If an additional $1 million can be raised from the public, these iconic collections can be preserved for generations.

The azalea collection is one of the attractions - along with the National Herb Garden, the historic National Capitol Columns and the world's most comprehensive bonsai museum - that have drawn millions of visitors to this 446-acre green space since it opened to the public in 1959.

Don't take my word for it, however. To quote one Post columnist: "There is nothing quite like leaving the snarl of downtown Washington traffic, the dusty car lots, the rusty garages and industrial nastiness of the District's Northeast gateway, and arriving at the U.S. National Arboretum. Yes, that bucolic green space behind the long fence on New York Avenue. It's gorgeous, like visiting an Umbrian countryside, a Japanese garden, a Provencal herb plot or a primordial fern grotto. It's like stepping inside a Monet or a Hokusai. Exhale."

That columnist, writing in April, was Petula Dvorak.

Jeanne Connelly, Washington

The writer is chairman of the board of the Friends of the National Arboretum.

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