By Curt Yeomans
There are hundreds of wild azaleas growing on the grounds of the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve, according to preserve Manager Stephanie Berens.
They come in a wide range of colors, including orange, pink, red and white, Berens said. She added that wild azaleas have been growing on the preserve since it belonged to county Judge William Huie Reynolds. Reynolds donated the property to the county government in 1976, according to the Clayton County Parks and Recreation web site.
The azaleas will be featured on Saturday, when the preserve hosts its first-ever Wild Azalea Festival. With Earth Day coming up later this month, this will be an opportunity for local residents to celebrate nature and the environment, Berens said.
"The native azalea was the judge's favorite plant, so it seemed natural to hold a festival in its honor," Berens said.
The event will be held Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., at the nature preserve, which is located at 5665 Reynolds Road, in Morrow. It is a free event for the public to attend, according to Berens. She added that anyone who attends the festival will have to park at nearby Babb Middle School, which is located at 5500 Reynolds Road, in Forest Park, and take a shuttle bus to the event.
Berens said festival patrons will be able to take nature walks, build squirrel feeders, or watch a presentation involving live snakes. She said there will also be information booths set up by several local organizations and groups, including the Georgia Aquarium, the Chattahoochee National Park, Clayton County Master Gardeners, the Atlanta Audubon Society, and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc.
"It is really geared towards showcasing the green space," Berens said.
According to the Azalea Society of America, azaleas are "the royalty of the garden" and the plants that bear the flowers can live for several years. Berens said they typically begin to bloom in early, to mid-April.
Right now, she said, rangers at the preserve are waiting for the azaleas to bloom. It should happen any time now, she said.
"They are all nice and budded out, and we're hoping they bloom before the festival," she said. "If not, then that gives people [a reason] to come back, so they can see the show."