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.
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.