C A R O L I N E D E A N W I L D F L O W E R G A R D EN
Location: Municipal Park, Opelika, AL
Project Leader: Betsy Akins
Project Description: The Caroline Dean Wildflower Trail (CDWT) started as a walking path in 2008 with access from Park Road through the Salem Shotwell Covered Bridge. The figure 8 shaped trail was constructed to honor Ms. Caroline Dean, an Opelika resident. In 2008, she received a National Wetlands Award for advocating for and educating others about native flora and wildflowers in the Southeastern U.S., especially those found in wetlands. The lower part of the trail is a garden filled with native azaleas, Carolina jasmine, Christmas fern, and savannah holly. Native azaleas were transplanted from Ms. Dean’s personal garden and bloom during the months of March, April, and May. Over the years, many groups and individuals have continued to donate native azaleas, oak leaf hydrangea, native ferns, crane flower orchids, Indian Pinks, and more. Pyramid Magnolias, Oaks, Carolina Silverbell, and Buckwheat Trees are among the trees that grace the garden. All plants are native to Alabama and particularly, the Piedmont region. Currently, there are 11 species of native azaleas in the garden that bloom from March to August.
The purpose of the garden is to display plants that represent the area and help visitors identify plants that they might include in their own personal gardens. The trail is a natural, relaxing setting where individuals can sit, read, and just be in nature. Master Gardeners provide talks to interested groups and continue to monitor the garden for invasive plants, trim trees and shrubs, and tend the wide variety of plants found in the garden.
Over the last ten years, LCMG’s lead coordinator for the garden has been Billie Oliver. Mrs. Oliver was recently awarded the Shirley Flora Award at the Opelika Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. The Shirley Flora Award is given to honor individuals who exemplify the mission of Keep Opelika Beautiful. The mission of Keep Opelika Beautiful is to educate the citizenry on the importance of a clean and beautiful environment and to promote the public interest in the maintenance of that environment.
Volunteers are welcome. If you would like to volunteer to help at any of the Lee County Master Gardener projects, please contact the Lee County Cooperative Extension Service Office, 600 S. 7th Street, Opelika AL 36801 to be connected with a project leader. Office: 334-749-3353
Billie Oliver, Master Gardener, taking a rare break.
Master Gardeners & Friends enjoy the garden even during Covid precautionary measures.
See the following links for resources on restoring native plants, creating native ecosystems and why it is important: