Open Garden Days

Celebrating Spring at Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve

3 Min read by Mindy Mock at PLC | May 28, 2021

PLC tried something new this year at the Emily Allen Wildflower Preserve (EAWP). In the past, we have usually hosted one Open Garden Day in April for visitors to tour the garden at its peak of bloom. Last year due to COVID, we had to cancel events all together. However, this spring we wanted to open the garden to the public while still following safety protocols, so every Wednesday in April, as well as one Saturday and one Sunday, we opened the Preserve for the 112 visitors who pre-registered for one of the limited time slots. Spaces filled in just a few days.  This would not have been possible without our dedicated EAWP Friends Volunteers who were there to meet the guests and answer questions about the garden, but also those who worked hard to keep the Preserve looking its best despite our renovations in progress.

 The renovations at the garden are close to completion. There is a new entrance to the garden complete with pergola and stairway, and a new terrace that spans the length of the back of the house overlooking the garden. We have been very fortunate to have two especially generous volunteers who helped to complete the new pergola entrance:

  • Steve Barnes, a long-time EAWP Friends Volunteer, donated his time and energy to lay the bricks for the walkway from the upper driveway to the pergola and stairway. Volunteers moved the old, handmade bricks from the original lower terrace up to the pergola for Steve to create this lovely new walkway.
  • Dan Bersch, a PLC supporter and member, graciously donated his time and the building materials for the beautiful new built-in pergola benches. These give visitors a place to sit and chat before or after their visit while overlooking the garden from above.
Visitors exploring the Preserve
Volunteer Steven Barnes
The new walkway and benches created by our wonderful volunteers
The Garden's new entryway
A Showy orchis

About the Garden

If you are not familiar with EAWP, the Preserve is located near Historic Bethabara.  Because this area of Forsyth County is rather special, picked by the early Moravian settlers for its fertile soils, the garden is home to many species of wildflowers you might be more likely to find in our mountains.  The Preserve is home to over 500 species of plants and trees, including 28 of the 35 known species of eastern North American trilliums.  Many of the plants in the Preserve occur naturally on the site, while others have been gifts from other native plant enthusiasts or transplanted rescues from doomed construction sites. 

This is a special garden indeed.  It all began 60 years ago when Emily Allen made an accidental discovery of a Showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis, formerly known as Orchis spectabilis) along the tributary to Monarcas Creek that runs through the middle of the property.  That began her lifelong passion for native plants and fueled her quest for learning in which she grew to become a renowned wildflower expert in the native plant enthusiast community across the state and beyond.  The garden has been frequented not only by botanists, horticulturists and students, but also by photographers, artists and other individuals and organizations who want to see such a wide collection of specimens without having to travel long distances.

In 2000, the Allen family donated a conservation easement on the site to ensure that it would always remain a native plant sanctuary, serving as an educational garden and also a repository of native plants and seeds for other botanical gardens so that plants would not need to be collected from wild populations.  Just before Emily’s death, the family donated the garden and residence to PLC in December 2014.  A Preserve stewardship endowment established by the family and many generous supporters helps to cover the costs associated with the garden.

Bruce's White Creeping Phlox
Kathy Treanor and Emily Allen hold up a PLC Conservation Property Sign

All made possible by Volunteers

The Preserve is maintained by the dedicated group of EAWP Friends Volunteers who not only give their time and physical labor, but also educate the public about the important role of native plants in our environment. The group officially formed in 2006, and since that time, they have cumulatively donated almost 8,000 hours. PLC greatly appreciates these volunteers and all they do to care for this special place.

Volunteer Debbie Vrsecky
Volunteer Joseph Johnson
Volunteer Marie James
Volunteer Carolina Corona

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