Yesterday I drove up to Washington DC for a walk in the U.S. National Arboretum to take a peek at how this year’s azaleas are coming along. My conclusion is, swimmingly!
Swimmingly in both a figurative and a literal sense soon, it seems: the early blooming variants have already turned the woodland paths of Mount Hamilton into a delight of colorful blossoms, but the forecast for the next few days is almost solid rain, with the sun only reluctantly peering from behind the clouds on Friday. If the azaleas weren’t growing on hillsides, they would literally be swimming after three straight days of rain! It will be a good weekend to avoid hiking in streambeds, apparently.
For some reason the Arboretum always schedules a Bonsai Festival right on top of the blooming of the Azalea Collection, which also coincides with Mother’s Day, so the place tends to be stampeded for a few weeks in May. If you want to visit, plan to either get there early or join the herd. The place opens at 8:00 am, and your best bet is to enter along R Street NE. Watch out for the speed cameras, though: there are a couple along New York Avenue north of the Arboretum, and another set south of the Arboretum along Benning Road NE, just east of where it crosses the Anacostia River.
Here is a map of the hike I am planning for this weekend. If your time is short, you can cut your hike to only a couple of miles by heading strait back to the Arbor House after combing Mount Hamilton for azaleas, saving the rest for another day.