Muskogee Begins Azalea Replanting Effort At Honor Heights Park

Monday, May 21st 2012, 11:32 am
By: News On 6

The azaleas in Muskogee's Honor Heights Park are getting a makeover.

More than $2 million dollars has been pledged to the park over the next five years. The money will help replenish the park's famous azaleas.

Honor Heights is known for its azaleas and every spring more than 500,000 people come to the park for the Azalea Festival.

4/1/2012 Related Story: Spring Blooms Come Early At Muskogee Azalea Festival

Mother Nature and Father Time have taken their toll on the azaleas and the city has just begun a multi-year rehab project to give the shrubs new life.

Mark Wilkerson is Muskogee's director of Parks and Recreation. He says ice storms, severe heat, and late freezes have damaged the azaleas and changed the environment in which they live.

"One of the things we have competition with is the trees," Wilkerson said. "The tree roots move into the beds and so we have to adjust the beds and move away from the trees."

But that all costs money and the City of Muskogee Foundation stepped in to help out. It's donating $500,000 a year over the next five years to pay for park improvements.

"It's unprecedented," Wilkerson said. "I mean, we've never had that type of help and support."

The plan is rebuild the flower beds and replace older azaleas with new varieties, including some that bloom in the summer and fall.

This isn't all the city is doing to the park. It's also working on a teaching garden and butterfly sanctuary, a $400,000 project that's also being paid for through donations. It's scheduled to open next spring.