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Smith-Mossman Western Azalea Garden

Articles: Smith-Mossman Western Azalea Garden

A small portion of the Smith-Mossman Western azalea Garden at Lake Wilderness Arboretum. Photograph by Bob Dunning

The horticultural history of the West Coast is filled with stories of notable plant collectors. Although much has been written in praise of their accomplishments and as a record of their contributions to our gardens, many of their collections fade away and vanish over time. a lucky few are preserved as reservoirs of genetic material for future generations of gardeners and plant enthusiasts. One of the most remarkable examples of preservation is the Smith-Mossman Western Azalea Garden.

Britt Smith and Frank Mossman were passionate about our native, deciduous West Coast azalea (Rhododendron occidentale). Although they were not the first to study the diversity of this species, they were among the most thorough in documenting their observations. They were inspired by the exhaustive work of Leonard Frisbie, a nurseryman from Tacoma, Washington who researched western azaleas during the 1950s; his work represented the only serious study of this azalea since the species was first collected, over ninet...


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