As a general rule, flora is absent from bridges, but on the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, it’s cultivated. When the historic 1925 bridge ended its traditional tenure as an overpass in 2011, the gardeners of Lake Lure claimed the landmark for their own.
Since its debut in 2013, the bridge has overflowed with a bounty of blooms. Spirited roses, thick-skinned succulents, and long-necked wildflowers fill the 12 themed beds that span the bridge, with motifs ranging from the traditional, like roses, to the whimsical, including a songbird butterfly garden. Favorites for natives of the Old North State are the two North Carolina Wildflower of the Year beds brimming with every blossom ever honored with the designation.
With over 700 plants, it takes a veritable troop of gloved, shear-wielding volunteers to maintain the gardens. In summer, they gather en masse to weed, water, prune, and replant, decked out in “Flowering Bridge Ambassador” shirts. A new amenity for curious guests is an audio tour: Accessible through a cell phone, it includes interesting tidbits and facts, as well as a narrative option for the visually impaired.
For those who are thirsty for knowledge, the bridge hosts some 20 free annual workshops on topics like preparing your garden for winter. For anyone seeking to get their hands dirty, volunteer opportunities abound—and even if your thumb’s not so green, you can help with construction of the new arbor and atrium on the western end of the bridge.
This lovingly tended attraction garners an estimated 30,000 visitors every year. “It’s become a means of socializing and forming community,” says Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge Board Chair Lee Armstrong, “not just with locals, but with all people who come to visit the bridge.”
Take it to the Bridge
For info on visiting, volunteering, or taking garden classes (which start in March), visit ww.wlakelurefloweringbridge.org.