MILL MOUNTAIN WILDFLOWER GARDEN HISTORY
Atop the namesake, Mill Mountain, a mountain within the city limits, is the pride and joy of the Mill Mountain Garden Club. In the fall of 1971, the City of Roanoke asked the Mill Mountain Garden Club to develop a two and one-half acre wildflower garden atop Mill Mountain, an area deeded to the City with the stipulation that it remain a public park. Professional landscaping was already planned, and the city agreed to grade the site and install irrigation. It was not until 1975 that this was accomplished.
The planting of the first 36 trees that spring coincided with a series of vicissitudes that would have discouraged anyone but true garden club members. The City mistakenly hydro-seeded the entire area with tough fescues. Hurricane Eloise obliterated the paths, poison ivy flourished, and two forest fires and a drought closed the mountain to visitors. But members of Mill Mountain Garden Club persevered – weeding, mulching, transplanting ferns and wildflowers and overseeing the professional planting of shrubs and trees. Today, with a planned system of meandering paths, the garden connects the picnic area of the Mill Mountain Park with the Mill Mountain Zoo.
Since the establishment of The Mill Mountain Garden Club’s Wildflower Garden 46 years ago, over 80,000 club member hours of work have cultivated, nurtured and expanded this crown jewel of Roanoke, Virginia. It is now a living connection between the City’s Discovery Center and The Roanoke Zoo. An amphitheater enhances the site as an educational tool, making it a working ‘classroom on the mountain.’ Many kids, big and small, enjoy the small water feature, too. Thousands of students and visitors to the city enjoy the efforts of Mill Mountain Garden Club as they explore the unique natural setting and the magnificent examples of native plants and horticulture specimens within the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, a treasure within the city limits.
For directions to the Wildflower Garden, click here.
To read the recent article about our garden in The Roanoke Times, click here.
Click here to view the video produced by Blue Ridge PBS on the Wildflower Garden history and restoration.
2018-2021 Wildflower Garden Restoration
Mill Mountain Garden Club’s Wildflower Garden “restoration campaign” raised more than $200,000 from 2018 – 2021 to transform this two and one-half acre garden into a revitalized urban oasis that will delight Roanokers and visitors for years to come. The money was raised with the support of the club, its members, donations from the community, foundation grants and awards. The aged pond, at the center of the property has been replaced by a cascading tiered pond. Walkways have been rerouted and an ADA compliant Discovery Trail will lead visitors through the garden and connect with the Mill Mountain Zoo entrance. Numerous new stone benches, a charming fairy garden and star stump jump have been installed. Breathtaking new vistas have been unveiled with the removal of invasives which had blocked these mountaintop views. New colorful interpretive signs set the stage for important conservation and horticultural education. Increasing the beauty of the garden hundreds of native plants, shrubs and trees have been added to the existing landscape.
Members have worked untold volunteer hours over its 50 year partnership with the city of Roanoke Parks and Recreation on this project. Mill Mountain Garden Club’s goal is to prepare the garden for fifty more years and to enjoy the solitude of communing with nature while overlooking our beautiful valley.
With the expertise of Art Garst, owner of Rock Stone, Asheville, NC, Mill Mountain Garden Club selected a garden plan that emphasizes the importance and beauty of native plants, and enhances the visitor experience with areas for quiet reflection with views of panoramic vistas both east and west and and under the huge old growth tree canopies.
SUPPORT OUR WILDFLOWER GARDEN RENOVATION
Contact Pam Moskal (firstname.lastname@example.org) to order a local artisan hand-made Roanoke Railroad Stake Star for $50. All proceeds benefit the Wildflower Garden Renovation Project.
On February 20, 2020, Mill Mountain Garden Club hosted nationally know author and environmental activist Dr. Diane Lewis.
Dr. Lewis author of The Great Healthy Yard Project and founder of the Great Healthy Yard Pledge was guest of Mill Mountain Garden Club. Dr. Lewis is an internist and nephrologist licensed to practice in New York. Lewis has combined her love of medicine and the environment to lead a movement to protect our most valuable resources as well as our own health.
Lewis created the Healthy Yard Project to draw attention to growing problems in our Country that often go unnoticed. She has dedicated her work to teaching others how chemicals end up in our drinking water and what affects they have on our bodies as well as teaching alternative ways to care for our lawns and gardens. Her program “Take the Pledge” has been embraced by local citizens across the Country.
I pledge to take care of my yard without synthetic pesticides, weedkillers and fertilizers except on rare occasions to resolve an infestation or to improve habitat for native plants and wildlife.
I also pledge not to throw pharmaceuticals or chemicals down my drains or toilets.