In 2010, the rhododendron and mountain laurel collections at the Jenkins Arboretum became nationally recognized as the Arboretum joined the American Public Gardens Association’s Plant Collections Network – a group of botanical institutions dedicated to preserving plant germplasm.
Since its inception in 1976, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens has built a noteworthy collection of ericaceous plants. With over 2300 accessions representing over 1800 taxa, the Rhododendron/azalea collection at Jenkins is incredibly diverse. All five major divisions within the genus are represented – lepidote rhododendrons (those with scaly leaves), elepidote rhododendrons (those with non-scaly leaves), evergreen azaleas (all from Asia), deciduous azaleas (mainly eastern US natives) and even vireya rhododendrons (mostly tropical epiphytes). The collection includes all species of eastern US native azaleas. The success of this collection is a result of moist, well-drained, acidic soils and ample rainfall during the growing season. Perhaps the main factor however, is simply the location of the Arboretum. Being situated on the edge of zones 6b and 7 and having both north and south-facing slopes, Jenkins is able to display both evergreen azaleas, which grow best further south, and large leaf rhododendrons, which grow best further north.
Currently, Jenkins is working on preservation and collections expansion to include some of the best new cultivars of hybrid rhododendrons from east coast hybridizers as well as known-provenance deciduous native species.
# of Taxa
# of Plants
Represented Hybridizers (selection)
Elepidote Rhododendron Hybrids
Dexter, Gable, Pride, Rhein, Waterer
Elepidote Rhododendron Species
Lepidote Rhododendron Hybrids
Delp, Herbert, Lewis, Nearing, Weston
Lepidote Rhododendron Species
Deciduous Azalea Hybrids
Aromi, Exbury, Knaphill, Weston, natural
Deciduous Azalea Species
Evergreen Azalea Hybrids
Glenn Dale, Back Acres, Beltsville, Gable, Harris, Hershey, Holly Springs, Kurume, Satsuki
Evergreen Azalea Species