Reforestation of George Ward Park

reforestation of George Ward ParkIn 2011, the Garden Club of America issued a challenge to its affiliated clubs across the nation to develop and enact a project in their local community focusing on trees in order to celebrate and honor the Garden Club of America's 100th Anniversary in 2013.

Little Garden Club and Red Mountain Garden Club, both GCA member clubs, teamed up with Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Director of Education, Henry Hughes, to collect and germinate Blackjack Oak, Post Oak, and Red Hickory seeds from the older park trees, for this future planting.

The city of Birmingham in 1925, commissioned brothers Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. and John Charles Olmstead, sons of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of New York’s Central Park and other notable parks, to develop a park system for the young city of Birmingham. Several parks, were planned, but by far the best example of an Olmstead park was the “naturalistic” Green Spring Park, now known as George Wald Park.

George Ward Park was considered to be “the gem” of the Birmingham park system designed by the brothers. However, since the creation of the park, not one native seedling has been able to take root and mature because of the poor soil conditions, erosion problems and overly aggressive but well-meaning maintenance of the park. To combat this, part of this project included the scattering of clippings and brush throughout the park to help regenerate the soil's organic nutrients. It is believed that seeds from the native trees will eventually germinate naturally, initiating the forest's self-regeneration over time.

The project culminated on October 24, 2013 with a tree planting ceremony held at George Ward Park. The event celebrated the reforestation project of what is hoped to be once again a gem of the Birmingham park system.

Many thanks to the representatives of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association, and Friends of George Ward Park, who all played various roles throughout this two year long project. The members of both Red Mountain Garden Club and Little Garden Club join Henry Hughes and these other groups in wishing continued health and growth of these lovely saplings.