The wildflowers blooming along North Carolina’s highways are a beautiful sight for travelers; they’re also award-winning. Each year, the N.C. Department of Transportation honors the state’s best-looking wildflower beds.
The Wildflower Awards were presented by N.C. Board of Transportation Chairman Mike Fox and The Garden Club of North Carolina at the monthly Board of Transportation meeting recently in Raleigh.
“For many years, the Wildflower Program has been one of the department’s most popular initiatives,” said David Harris, Roadside Environmental Engineer. “It not only makes North Carolina even more beautiful, but the flowers also help sustain the pollinator population which is essential to the success of the state’s agriculture community.”
The Wildflower Awards were given for beds that bloomed in 2018. The winners are:
– Best Overall Division Wildflower Program:
• First Place – Division 13, which includes Rutherford, McDowell, Burke, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison and Buncombe counties
• Second Place – Division 14, which includes Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain and Transylvania counties
– William D. Johnson Daylily Award:
• First Place – Division 7 – I-40/85 at N.C. 54 in Alamance County (exit 148)
• Second Place – Division 4 – I-795 at N.C. 222 in Wayne County (exit 14)
– Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Eastern Region:
• First Place – Division 2 – U.S. 264 at Mozingo Road in Pitt County (exit 71)
• Second Place – Division 1 – N.C. 11 at Jack Branch Road in Bertie County
– Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Central Region:
• First Place – Division 9 – U.S. 52 at Perch Road in Stokes County (exit 129)
• Second Place – Division 10 – I-85 at Beatties Ford Road in Mecklenburg County (exit 37)
– Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Western Region:
• First Place – Division 14 – I-40 at U.S. 19/23/74 in Haywood County (exit 27)
• Second Place – Division 13 – I-26 at mile marker 10 in Madison County
The awards, sponsored by The Garden Club of North Carolina, recognize the efforts of NCDOT staff who carry out North Carolina’s wildflower program and enhance the overall appearance and environmental quality of the state’s highways. Awards are given to the best-looking flower beds in each region of the state, as well as the best overall highway division wildflower program.
In 1985, First Lady Dottie Martin, inspired by an article she had read in The Wall Street Journal about Texas’ wildflower program, approached NCDOT about initiating a similar program to beautify the highways of North Carolina. This set the stage for the establishment of the Wildflower Program which is coordinated by the NCDOT Roadside Environmental Unit. Today, the program has more than 1,500 acres of flower beds across the state.