The Montgomery Botanical Gardens at Oak Park is our newest CCMGA Project. Volunteers are needed and welcome to help with a variety of functions.
The next steps in the development of our Montgomery Botanical Gardens (MBG) is about to begin. The commitment of many volunteers will be needed to help with numerous tasks, including preparation for planting, installation of plantings and hardscape, development and delivery of educational materials, special events, fundraising and much more.
Ethel Dozier Boykin, top left photo, with Birmingham Botanical Garden Executive Director, Frederick R. Spicer, had for some time presented her vision to many local groups and individuals. She recruited Heather Coleman, (shown top right at MBG ground breaking ceremony) to assist in her communication with local government entities to gain their support. With firm belief in the numerous benefits to the Capital City of having the botanical gardens, they began to move forward.
The catalyst that initiated the dedicated efforts to establish MBG was a meeting to which all interested parties were invited on June 18, 2013. Individuals, organizations and representatives from local government were invited to attend, listen, ask questions and offer support. Over 120 people attended the meeting held at Young Meadows Church and 98 signed up to help indicating their areas of interest of expertise. To begin the organizational process, a Board of Directors was formed representing varied interests, skills and knowledge that would be beneficial to the mission of establishing and maintaining the botanical gardens. This board has met at least monthly since November 2013 to manage the processes necessary to insure that legal, financial and community service requirements are met as the park development moves forward. Ethel Dozier began as acting chair until procedures for elections could be established.
Having gained the support and interest of City leadership, a groundbreaking was held on November 7, 2013 with the Mayor officiating. A descendent of the original owner of the land for Oak Park was present to be recognized as well as others who had demonstrated an interest in the gardens. The event was well attended and received considerable positive publicity.
The first official meeting of the Board of Directors was on November 19, 2013 at Oak Park. One of the first actions of the board was to establish a Strategic Planning Committee to create a Mission Statement, Goals and Actions to guide the activities of the board and to function as a reference for those interested in the MBG. The board also initiated efforts to obtain a topographical map of Oak Park from the City or have one completed.
After months of careful discussion and writing, the MBG BOD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Montgomery on February 28, 2014. This document clarified the relationship between MBG and the City and the responsibilities of each. The long term lease with the City was completed and signed that confirms the use of Oak Park as the Botanical Gardens and enabled the MBG board of directors to begin the creation of the Phase One of the development of the gardens. As each phase is completed, an addendum will be added to the lease for the next phase.
A membership drive to attract Charter Members began in January 2013 and was quite successful. As of September 2014, there are 406 Charter members of MBG. A “Celebration in the Park” was held on May 1, 2014 to thank Charter Members for their contributions and interests and to provide an update on the progress of developing MBG. Charter members were very pleased with the significant progress that had been achieved and anxious to get “shovels in the ground.”
The MBG Strategic Plan was completed and adopted on July 1, 2014. With the completion of this document, the MBG board of directors established the Mission for the gardens, goals for 2014 and actions to accomplish those goals.
Also on July 1, 2014, the MBG board of directors approved the Constitution and Bylaws for the operation of the organization. These documents led to the first, interim officers being elected. They are President Ethel Boykin, Vice President Heather Coleman Davis, Secretary Cathy Maddox, and Treasurer Scott Williams. These officers were re-elected to serve full terms for 2015.
A public meeting was held in October 2014 to share the progress and plans for the Montgomery Botanical Gardens and encourage community involvement. The progress and accomplishments thus far were well received and resulted in even more public support and interest. Committees of volunteers have begun working on a variety of planning issues that will continue moving forward toward our goal of establishing and maintaining flourishing botanical gardens in Montgomery.
Fundraising and membership drives are planned for 2015 as well as the installation of the first section of the gardens. The construction fencing has been installed and dead and damaged trees have been removed in that section.
The first planting at our new Montgomery Botanical Gardens was installed on April 27th in the entrance beds at Oak Park. Designed by students in the Public Gardens Masters program of the School of Horticulture at Auburn University, these beds are just the beginning of a mutually beneficial collaboration between Montgomery Botanical Gardens and Auburn University. Montgomery Botanical Gardens Board members and Master Gardeners from Capital City Master Gardeners and Central Alabama Master Gardeners who volunteered to participate in the planting were vital to its successful completion. This planting was an important step toward the creation of our botanical gardens and a great beginning for our newest CCMGA project. Thank you to all who are helping to make the Montgomery Botanical Gardens a reality for our community.
For more information visit the Montgomery Botanical Gardens website at: