Milwaukee Edition
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Floral Throughways

Garden Clubs Help Beautify Roads


Displays of flowers populating highway meridians, road embankments and adjacent green spaces are often due to the efforts of garden clubs working with state departments of transportation (DOT). Some of these pioneers also inspire other clubs to pursue similar collaborations, often with public support.

“The people of Texas have joined wholeheartedly in what Lady Bird Johnson started,” says Linda Love, roadside beautification chairperson of the Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. (, headquartered in Fort Worth. Their committee recognizes planting projects on state and county highways assisted by 320 local clubs encompassing about 10,000 members.

She points to particularly attractive areas along highways 75 in Richardson, plus highways 45 and 35 extending south of Dallas, where concentrations of blue bonnets “look like lakes,” says Love. Other planted native flower patches include Indian paintbrush and gaillardia. She notes that the state prohibits mowing of blue bonnets until after they’ve bloomed and dropped their seeds; picking rules preserve their beauty.

Gail Hill, chair of The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.’s ( roadside beautification committee, based in Winter Park, reports the Ella P. Wood Paths of Sunshine Award Program that partners with the Florida Wildflower Foundation ( recognizes the efforts of state DOT maintenance crews in establishing and maintaining roadside wildflowers. “The department has run a strong program for decades,” she says.

Local clubs are encouraged to petition elected officials for new resolutions to develop roadside wildflower projects. “About half of Florida’s counties have passed resolutions, including most recently, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties,” says Hill.

This year, the Raleigh-based The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. (, with more than 200 chapters, is working with the state DOT to commemorate the centennial of America’s entry into World War I by planting red poppies and bachelor buttons. Roadside Development Chairperson Pat Cashwell reports that about 1,500 acres of wildflowers, including cosmos, are planted annually on state and county highways each summer and fall, largely funded by the sale of special license plates, with awards to highway department crews. “We get letters from people after they drive through the state commenting on the floral beauty,” she enthuses.

Many garden clubs also establish flowers in parks, schoolyards, church properties and other public locations.

This article appears in the July 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

A Local Author’s Journey of Healing From Grief

Wauwatosa author Mary Lou Bailey tells the tale of how she gained strength after a loss in her book, I Am My Own Rug, released this past November through Broken Wing Press.

White Conch Dharma Center Presents Tonglen Meditation Workshop

Domo Geshe Rinpoche, Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan tradition, will teach Taking Suffering into the Heart of Compassion–Tonglen Half-Day Workshop, from 2 to 5 p.m. March 10, at Unity Church, in Wauwatosa.

Sample the Area’s Best Chili While Supporting Independent Radio

WMSE 91.7 FM radio, a nonprofit, listener-supported radio service educationally licensed to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, will hold its 16th annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 11, at MSOE’s Kern Center.

Local Farmer Open House Educates on Farm-to-Table Agriculture

Few things are as delicious as locally grown farm-fresh food, and subscribing to a community-supported agriculture program brings that food directly from a local farmer to the table.

Drink a Little, Help a Lot Fundraiser to Help Children in Malawi

Milwaukeeans will have an opportunity to help support construction of a new school in the eastern African nation of Malawi through the Drink a Little, Help a Lot fundraiser, hosted by Milwaukee area residents Niyati Desai and Claire Lang.

Rise Yoga Studio Off ers Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga for All Abilities

Paula Evans offers a flowing style of yoga that connects the movement of the body with the breath. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sri T. Krishnamacharya developed Ashtanga during the 20th century.

Letter from Publisher

Today Milwaukee has a diverse, sophisticated palate that includes vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a range of international cuisines that were difficult to find in the area a decade ago.

Outpost Natural Foods

Now over 22,000 owners strong, Outpost is a testament to society’s shift toward healthy food awareness.

Leafy Greens Lower Risk for Heart Disease

Teenagers that eat few leafy greens are at triple the risk for enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle, reducing blood pumping volumes, than teens that eat greens.

Physical Activity Deters Alzheimer's

Walking, dancing, gardening and other physical activities significantly improve brain volume and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Gooseberries are Good for the Gut

Malaysian subjects with gastrointestinal problems had less pain, vomiting and sleep loss when receiving an ayurvedic remedy known as Indian gooseberry.

Saunas Lower Blood Pressure

Four to seven saunas a week halved high blood pressure risk in a study of 1,621 Finnish men.

Add your comment: