Established in 1959, Brighton Dam’s Azalea Garden is home to over 22,000 azalea bushes over 5 acres in a hardwood forest. Kousa dogwood trees were added in the 1990’s and the garden is also home to Montgomery County’s champion fringe tree.
The idea for the garden was from WSSC Water Commissioner Raymond Bellamy. WSSC Water Watershed Manager Paul Hancock led the work as the garden was planted in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. An updated gazebo was installed by WSSC Water watershed staff in 2012. Ben Morrison was the former Chief of the Plant Introduction Section and Director of the National Arboretum, United States Department of Agriculture. Glenn Dale, MD is the location of USDA’s Plant Introduction Section and Morrison named the variety of azalea in honor of the community.
Azaleas are not the only thing that thrive in the garden. Maryland's state champion fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) calls the Azalea Garden its home.
Recently, WSSC Water has planted several new beds, including one devoted to deciduous azaleas and another bed filled with Gable Hybrid “Karen” azaleas. The majority of the azaleas in the garden bloom around Mother’s Day.
The Azalea Garden is scheduled to reopen in Spring 2020.
We have a few deciduous varieties planted near the main entrance to the gardens. These plants are upright and tall, with very large flowers and a very striking range of colors from yellow orange to orange red. They are midseason bloomers.