, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 6, 2014

Azalea work nearly over

Plant buds culminate weeks of preparation

Park Superintendent Rick Ewing said buds are beginning to show on Muskogee’s famous flowers.

“A few more warm days like today and it won’t take long,” Ewing said.

Each year after the Garden of Lights is over at Honor Heights Park, preparation for the Azalea Festival begins.

“It’s always a lengthy endeavor,” Ewing said.

The festival, which began in April 1968, brings thousands of visitors to Muskogee each year.

With 40 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens featuring 625 varieties of azaleas and more than 30,000 plants, a lot of work must be done.

The azaleas are expected to bloom around the middle of the month despite this past winter’s weather and dry conditions.

“This is our driest winter since 1934 or 1936. We’ve had a third of an inch of rain,” Ewing said.

“Dryness really detrimentally affects the azaleas,” Ewing said. “So, we are hoping to make sure that nothing is too hard on them.”

According to the Azalea Society of America’s website, azaleas can thrive in a wide variety of growing conditions, which makes them useful in many different landscape situations.

The city’s park and recreation staff have been preparing for the Azalea Festival.

“We are currently in the process of doing bed renovations,” Ewing said.

It takes many people and a commitment to the park and the plants to make the festival a success.

“We try to mitigate the environment’s impact on them,” Ewing said.

Another group that will help to ensure that the azaleas and other plants will bloom with beauty are the Papilion Garden Ambassadors.

Volunteers go through a seven-hour training course.

With that knowledge, members dedicate 25 hours throughout the year for events including the Azalea Festival.

“We are reinvesting in the azaleas. We are also starting work inside the Papilion,” Ewing said.

The park is the main draw for the festival, but other celebrations outside the park are key to the success also, Ewing said.

“The bulk of the festival is really everything that everybody does around town,” he said.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or

Text Only
Local News
AP Video
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

     View Results
Featured Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.