RALEIGH — 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 at an award ceremony.
The 2017 NCDOT Wildflower Awards were presented by N.C. Transportation Secretary James Trogdon and The Garden Club of North Carolina at the monthly Board of Transportation meeting today in Raleigh.
“The Wildflower Program is one of the department’s most popular initiatives,” said David Harris, roadside environmental engineer. “Not only are the flowers wonderful to look at, they 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 2017. 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 9, which includes Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Rowan, and Stokes counties
William D. Johnson Daylily Award:
• First Place – Division 4 – US 264 at Downing Street in Wilson County
• Second Place – Division 11 – I-77 at Exit 93 in Surry County
Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Eastern Region:
• First Place – Division 2 – US 70 and NC 148 in Lenoir County
• Second Place – Division 1 – US 64 at Exit 512 in Martin County
Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Central Region:
• First Place – Division 7 – I-40/85 at Mt. Hope Church Road in Guilford County
• Second Place – Division 10 – NC 24 at Old Concord Road in Mecklenburg County
Best Regional Wildflower Planting, Western Region:
• First Place – Division 14 – I-40 at Exit 31 in Haywood County
• Second Place – Division 12 – I-77 in Iredell 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.