Save the Date: The 2020 Auburn Azalea Festival Occurs on April 11, 2020 at the Davis Arboretum
The Auburn Azalea series is the result of more than three decades of breeding and production of the luscious blooms seen on campus each spring. The climate and landscape of the south allow for its plethora of azaleas, but Auburn puts the rhododendron on the map for its deeply rooted tradition.
From Samford Lawn to the President’s Home, Auburn University spans hundreds of the native orange, yellow, pink, red, and white azalea specimen. Davis Arboretum’s collection in particular includes more than 1,000 individual plants, making it one of the largest documented collections in the United States.
These vibrant azaleas add to Auburn’s beauty each year, with the best selections named for a distinguished Auburn figure, including ‘Rouse’s Rose’, ‘Corley’s Cardinal’, ‘Baker Dean’, and ‘Patsy’s Pink’, to name a few.
Late professor of fisheries R. O’Neal “Smitty” Smitherman brought his lifelong passion for azaleas to the university years ago. Smitherman teamed up with the late Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dennis Rouse, in beautification and landscape projects across the city.
Smitherman also named one of the azaleas ‘Corley’s Cardinal’ after his friend Tom Corley, an Auburn graduate and World War II veteran, who began collecting native azaleas in the 1970s and shared those selections with Smitherman and Rouse. Corley went on to continue this care of azaleas for years, eventually donating countless plants to the university and city of Auburn, including Kiesel Park, Moore’s Mill Club, Samford Lawn, the Garden of Memory, and Davis Arboretum.
Dr. Bob Greenleaf, former Auburn University Department of Music professor, breeds hundreds of azaleas and contributes many to the Arboretum’s collection. Greenleaf is the last living breeder of the great era of those who give their time and effort to keeping Auburn’s collection of azaleas beautiful each year.
Smitherman, Rouse, Corley and Greenleaf are just a few of the many keepers of Auburn Azaleas, without whom we would not see the beautiful array of colors continuously blooming on campus.
Auburn Azaleas are available for purchase during the spring at the Davis Arboretum’s Azalea Festival and their fall plant sale towards the end of September. All of the proceeds from the sale of Auburn Azaleas directly benefit the Davis Arboretum.
“This year, the Azalea Festival will take place on April 11,” Beadles added. “The community will have an opportunity to see and purchase azaleas, plus learn about valuable services provided throughout Auburn.”