“Azaleas are only being removed in areas where the trees are best suited to be planted,” Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities Director Tom Beck said. "Where good azaleas are having to be removed, we’re potting those and replanting them in other areas,” he said.
The azaleas are being removed to prepare for a private group to plant the trees. The Augusta Chronicle previously reported that Trees for Augusta will plant six dogwood trees in the Henry Street median in the fall.
Earlier this year, the group planted 18 sugar maples in another section of the Henry median.
Longtime Henry Street resident Becky Schmidt recalled when the broad, grassy medians were filled with vibrant dogwood and azalea blooms every spring.
"That strip of medians used to be gorgeous. They had those big pink, almost magenta blooms all the way down, and they had nice, pretty dogwoods," she said.
Over the last 10-15 years, however, Schmidt said it appears the plants are steadily being replaced with cheaper, smaller and less water-resistant varieties that aren't maintained and wind up being replaced frequently.