By JOHN LEE
MADISON — The Madison Station Botanic Garden is continuing to take shape as city officials unveiled a new sign honoring the Madison Station Botanic Garden on the historic Montgomery House grounds.
Representatives from Canadian National Railway, America In Bloom, and City of Madison officials attended the event and spoke a few words about their hopes and plans for the future of the garden and its upcoming phases, including a gazebo and rose garden. State Rep. Jill Ford was also present for the event.
Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler said the accomplishments of the garden are bittersweet and that she wished the late Miriam Etheridge, who passed away in December 2021, could see what the garden has become.
“Miriam is in a place with a lot of gardens and a lot of beauty,” Hawkins-Butler said. “Her heart was set on bringing beauty to this community, and her vision was to see botanic gardens on this property. Because of her love and that vision, and all of you here, it’s all coming to fruition. However, it’s only just begun.”
Work on the botanic garden began in April 2021 after Etheridge applied for a $25,000 grant from America In Bloom, which Madison matched. Volunteers such as Alan Hoops, Gary Tolbert and Boy Scout Troop 15, master gardeners, local nursery suppliers, and more have assisted in planting flowers and keeping the garden beautiful to preserve Etheridge’s vision.
Laura Kunkle, executive director of America In Bloom, said she is pleased with the project so far and that environmental efforts are critical. “When it comes time to make hard decisions regarding grants, Madison’s applications always rise to the top since they’re so well done,” Kunkle said. “That happened due to Miriam’s loving hands on these proposals. This project is tremendous and another step in Madison’s continued transformation.”
Stacey Lyons, manager of government and public affairs for the Canadian National Railroad, said one of the best parts of working for CNR is seeing projects like the Madison Station Botanic Garden come to fruition.
“You should be proud of what you’ve done here, it looks amazing,” Lyons said. “I look forward to coming back and seeing the evolution of this project.”
Alan Hoops, landscape architect and director of environment and design for the city of Madison, said the new sign was finished recently and it has a mailbox attached to it, where people can find brochures that contain maps and labels for the various plants.
“We’ll be able to walk through the garden, look at the plants, and know what you’re looking at,” Hoops said.
“We’ve also talked about the next phase of this garden, which is a rose garden over beyond the sycamore tree. We’ll have roses, a gazebo, and a bell Miriam donated to the city. We’ll put that in the middle of the garden, and plan to have all of that planted and done by this fall.”
To view the current state of the Madison Station Botanic Garden, visit the Montgomery House grounds, located right off Main Street in Madison.