In the western corner of Avondale Park is a special place known as the Rose Garden Gazebo. The garden was built under the direction of Mayor George Ward, who served Birmingham from 1905 to 1908. The beauty of the garden and its diversity of roses attracted national attention a century ago.
At the center of this elaborate garden is a gazebo large enough for gatherings. Encircling the gazebo are five rings of gardens, with pathways between each ring. Radiating out from the gazebo in a spoke-like fashion are eight additional pathways.
Sadly, the garden was neglected in recent decades, and most of the roses died or were stolen. Weeds have since filled in the empty spaces. But the garden will be renovated in 2014 through a partnership between the Birmingham Audubon Society and Avondale Samaritan Place and with the support of the Friends of Avondale Park.
Heirloom roses will be planted in many of the garden beds, while other beds will be planted with species providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife. In many beds, native plants will be emphasized to provide a habitat for local pollinators, such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Educational workshops will be held here for those who want to learn how to tend rose gardens or create native plant habitats in their yards. Interpretive signs will inform the curious about these features and the many benefits of transforming portions of a lawn into a wildlife sanctuary with native plants. Be sure to swing by the Rose Garden Gazebo to check out the status of this historic renovation when you visit the park.
-R. Scot Duncan