“Plant an Azalea Week” begins, most anticipated festival in region days away

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – It’s the official kick-off leading up to the most anticipated festival in the region – The Azalea Festival.

A small group of locals, commissioners and event organizers rolled up their sleeves to plant more than a dozen azaleas at River Road Park – a tradition started more than a decade ago.The Cape Fear Garden Club, Inc. sends out gift cards to raise money for the shrubs, according to the club’s president, Linda Snider.

“Today is a special day because it’s the start of the ‘Plant Azalea Week’ named by our garden club,” she said.

The club started planting azaleas throughout the county, as well as county parks more than 10 years ago, according to Snider.

“We raise the money to buy the azaleas through special gift cards that we are able to purchase, and then send to our friends for various reasons,” she said.

The proceeds from those cards are used to purchase the flowering shrubs.

In attendance was Barbara Cavenaugh who planted one in memory of her late mother, who passed away in December of last year.

“Everybody sends flowers or cards, or whatever,” she said. “A friend of mine, Barbara Downing purchased a beautiful ‘Plant an Azalea’ card that she sent in sympathy for my mom.”

Cavenaugh said her mother had a green thumb and loved flowers.

“I didn’t get that from her, but she was an avid gardener and loved azaleas, and just loved the springtime,” she said. “It was important to me to be here for her, for that.”

Azaleas stay green throughout the year and show out when they flower, according to Snider.

“They are easily grown, easily planted, they don’t require a lot of maintenance in a garden, and then when they bloom they are spectacular as you’ll see throughout our season,” she said.

The various shades of pink blooms will be on display during the garden tour which starts Friday.

“They are green all year long, they are lovely plants, and they do put on such a show right about the time of the azalea festival,” she said.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of The North Carolina Azalea Festival.

The pandemic canceled the festival in 2020, with a modified version last year.

The festival starts Wednesday.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News, Top Stories