Native Garden

Garden club members have spent 40 years cultivating Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden.

Butterflies, brides and grooms, families, tourists and just plain weary souls in search of uplifting natural beauty have flocked for more than 40 years to the resplendent Wildflower Garden in Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Park.

The pride and joy of the Mill Mountain Garden Club, this two-and-a-half-acre garden is fairly bursting with native trees, shrubs and flowers all carefully cultivated into a symphony of wild natural beauty by the 90-member strong organization. 

In 1971, the club accepted a request from Roanoke City leaders to develop and maintain the wildflower garden atop Mill Mountain, an area deeded to the city by Roanoke native son, newspaper owner and publisher J. B. Fishburn and his wife, Grace, with the stipulation that it remain a public park. 

“It has taken years of planting and replanting, nursing and talking to the plants, but we have just a jewel right now, especially in the spring,” says Joyce Jaeger, former chairman of the club’s Wildflower Garden Committee and this year’s chairman of Historic Garden Week in Roanoke. 

What began as a series of sketched out plans from landscapers hired by the city has become an oasis filled with meandering paths connecting the picnic area of Mill Mountain Park with the Mill Mountain Zoo. Club members estimate they have contributed more than 80,000 volunteer hours over the past four decades, breathing life into the wildflower beds. Gardens filled with treasured Virginia favorites like blackberry lily, columbine, arum, coneflower, wild ginger, Virginia bluebells, Solomon’s seal and—Thomas Jefferson’s favorite—twinleaf, share precious space with ferns and even a thriving collection of the nearly extinct Chestnut tree. 

The club has also installed a pond and outdoor amphitheater classroom for nature programs—and sometimes weddings. 

Each member of the garden club is asked to spend time volunteering in the Wildflower Garden.

“When we are in the garden working, many people walking through will ask us questions,” says Jaeger. “It has been so fun to share this with everyone.”

Save the date: The Mill Mountain Garden Club Wildflower Garden will be featured during the Garden Club of Virginia’s 85th annual Historic Garden Week tour of Roanoke, Saturday April 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For tickets, and a complete list of tours taking place around the state April 21-28, visit

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