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National Arboretum A Treasure

Visit to arboretum is a treat for the senses and a natural treasure of germplasm

The North American Agricultural Journalists are in Washington, D.C. for the organization's annual convention and awards banquet.

I've been a member for 15 years or so and always look forward to the opportunity to be here and see and learn new things.

Today, we toured the National Arboretum ahead of a short question and answer session with Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture.

While the gardens are without doubt a sensory delight, we learned that the National Arboretum is not just for display. It holds several collections of unique, original germplasm of value to breeders of ornamental horticulture around the world.

I got a chance to have a few words with researcher Margaret Pooler, who has done much of the work to develop hardier varieties of crepe mrytle. She told me that she worked with and admired one of my all-time favorite horticultural researchers, John C. Pair, who led the Kansas State University Horticulture Research station south of Wichita for many years.

Pair died in 1998 and the center was renamed in his honor.

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