By David Ford
The Botanical Woodland Teaching Garden is officially open. The block-wide park planted with 76 native trees and shrubs marks the beginning of the planned 6.4-mile Southwest High Point Heritage Greenway.
Located along Richland Creek on a defunct right-of-way in the Southside Neighborhood of southwest High Point, the woodland was designed to raise the quality of life for the low-income residents there. The botanical garden will create an early interest in ecology and the sciences among neighborhood children, provide access to nature, and safe hike and bike paths.
Southwest Renewal Foundation Executive Director Dorothy Darr says the garden’s close proximity to the headwaters of two major watersheds in the North Carolina system will provide ecological benefits too.
“One is the Richland watershed which flows into Richland Creek and then down to the Randleman Reservoir which supplies our drinking water for much of High Point and Greensboro,” says Darr.
The Botanical Woodland Teaching Garden is also at the headwaters of the Cape Fear River Basin.
“It’s the only river basin in North Carolina that flows directly into the Atlantic ocean,” says Darr. “So, what we do upstream, which we are here in southwest High Point, makes a big difference downstream. It not only increases the quality of life for the residents who live around these surface waters but also influences our neighbors downstream and throughout the state.”
The Garden is enhanced by outdoor sculptures and a newly unveiled historical marker honoring Rev. Benjamin Elton Cox. Cox was the pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church in southwest High Point from 1958 to 1968, and an active participant in the civil rights movement. Cox began desegregation efforts in local schools and served as an advisor for the NAACP Youth Council before becoming the executive director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Plans are for the Southwest High Point Heritage Greenway to eventually stretch from the Amtrak station in downtown High Point to the Interstate 85 business loop on the southwest side of the city.