Native azaleas for Falling Waters State Park

submitted by Gweneth Collins

On Wednesday, January 31st Chipley Garden Club arrived at Falling Waters State Park to make a special presentation.  Beginning in September 2017, club members “passed the jar” at each meeting collecting change to purchase plants for the state park at the end of each year.  By the end of 2017 enough had been collected to purchase three native azaleas to add to the park’s displays.

Garden Club Members and State Park Staff

The Florida Native Azaleas aka Rhododendron austrinum is a native deciduous shrub and perfectly suited for this part of Florida.  Club President Debbie Mitchell stated, “Maphis Nursery located two pinks and one orange for us – large enough to be noticed NOW.  We can’t wait to see them in bloom this Spring!  We are planning to make this a continuing project and look forward to adding many more as times goes by.”

Garden Club Members and Park Manager Aaron Miller discuss wildflower garden plot

Park Ranger Jeffrey Pettis remarked, “We have a nice collection of naturally occurring natives throughout the park and they are gorgeous when in bloom.  Unfortunately they are not in the areas the public frequents.   These three will be planted in a more noticeable area.”

Butterfly Chair Ri McGlamery points out wildflower information to Park Manager Aaron Miller

Park Manager Aaron Miller brought the club up-to-date on the new park addition. He stated, “I’m sure you noticed as you were coming into the park that the area has been cleared.  It has already been planted with native wiregrass using seeds gathered from wiregrass growing in the park.  With the planting of Longleaf pines later this year, the area will be on its way back to natural.”

Following the plant presentation, Park Manager Miller joined the garden club at the Joyce Carter Wildflower Garden to discuss future plans.  The garden, which is located in the main park area, is dormant at this time of year, but by Spring wildflowers will be popping up all over.

Providing native plants to our state park and wildflower gardening are just two of the projects of Chipley Garden Club.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Club President Debbie Mitchell at 638-0536.  The next club meeting will be Wednesday, February 7th at 10:30AM at Oakie Ridge Baptist Church.