The Azalea Garden

 

The Azalea Garden was started in 1952 by Mr. Robert E. Harvey, a former Richmond Recreation and Parks Superintendent of Grounds and Structures. Over an almost fifteen-year span, Mr. Harvey, helpers from the City, Garden Clubs and volunteers planted 450,000 azaleas (50 different varieties) in approximately 76 separate beds. They also built a small pond with a stone fountain, and planted a large red and white cross made of azaleas, framed by boxwoods started from slips from boxwoods at Dogwood Dell. Eventually, these 17 acres of Bryan Park would be recognized as a major tourist attraction (and money generator), bringing 450,000 visitors per year to Bryan Park.

Unfortunately as Richmond, like many cities across the United States, came under financial strain, the Azalea Garden fell into disrepair.  Efforts are slowly being made to bring it back to its former glory.

The Past Glory of the Azalea Garden

To the right is a photo of the Azalea Garden at its best. The garden was so revered that it was displayed on  the cover of the book North American Gardens.

Part of the restoration process is to recognize Mr. Harvey’s enduring contribution to Bryan Park. Friends of Bryan Park requested that the City officially name the Azalea Garden in his honor. We contacted Mr. Harvey’s family members, inviting them, other dignitaries, and those who knew him to attend a dedication ceremony on Saturday, April 25th, 1998 at the Azalea Garden Pond. There was an unveiling of a monument to him, refreshments, and walking tours of the Garden.

Every year the Azalea Garden is open to driving visitors from April 1st to May 15th.  Come in the main Bryan Park gate at Hermitage Road/Lakeside Avenue. Follow the signs to the Azalea Garden.

Don’t forget that the park closes at sunset. Dogs must be on leashes and are not allowed in the garden itself.  They may be walked on the surrounding road.

See you there!

Visit here to learn about azalea care, month by month.

 

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