Cullman’s Wildflower Garden: A hidden utopia

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1987
Cullman’s Wildflower Garden is a lesser-known area within Sportsman Lake Park; beyond the red pergola is a beautiful trail of native flowers. (B.J. Morgan)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Tucked away in the wooded area of Sportsman Lake Park is the Wildflower Garden, a beautiful collection of natural and native flora, open for the public to study, observe and enjoy. The entirety of the park is considered to be an arboretum; plans for the city arboretum usually come from Cullman City Council; however, the plans and particulars for the Wildflower Garden come straight from the Cullman Native Plant Society and are enacted by the Cullman County Master Gardeners.

Master Gardener Richard Carpenter, looking out over the garden grounds with pride, said humbly, “We’ve been trying to keep up on the weeds, but this month is so impressive. There are wildflowers just blooming everywhere.”

The garden has been a longtime work in progress and a labor of love from the Master Gardeners; the grounds of the 3-acre garden have been improved at any chance that comes along. Past Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) students have put in time and effort to construct sturdy permanent bridges over the running creeks, new benches have been installed around the pathway and a new “Story Book Trail” has been added more recently, in an effort to include children in the garden.

The Story Book Trail is a series of displays set at various intervals of the gravel trails; each display houses one to two pages of a popular children’s book. Children must follow the path and complete the trail to finish the tale. The stories are changed in the displays monthly, meaning that almost every trip will receive a different storyline to follow, letting little feet and imaginations run wild.

Another addition to the garden is its soon-to-be outdoor classroom. The students of CATA’s Building Construction program are erecting a 16- by 20-foot raised seating area, with a teaching platform on the garden grounds. The new space will be free to the public for use as a homeschooling classroom area, a meeting zone for teams and troops and maybe even an intimate wedding venue on the platform under a canopy of trees.

“I have never been involved with something as pretty and as secluded and inside the city; it’s amazing to me,” Carpenter said. “I’m glad to be involved in it. It’s nice to have something special in your life to go and do, and have others enjoy it.”

The Cullman Wildflower Garden is housed at Sportsman Lake Park located at 1544 Sportsman Lake Park Road NW.

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