Last week volunteers came out on a cold and rainy afternoon to help prepare over 600 native dogwood trees to be planted around Knoxville and surrounding areas as part of the Dogwood Arts annual “Bazillion Blooms”. While this was the tenth year of Bazillion Blooms, it really kicked off back in the 1950s.
Dogwood Arts began as a neighborhood beautification project in 1955 after a New York author traveled thru Knoxville and wrote that it was “the ugliest city in America”. This claim did not impress the Knoxville Garden Club, who then encouraged their neighbors to plant dogwood trees for everyone visiting Knoxville to see.
The next year 4 additional neighborhood trails were added; and the next another 5. Within 6 years so many people were coming to Knoxville to enjoy the beauty of the dogwood trails, a festival was created to entertain guests during their visit.
Nearly 50 years later, many of the original dogwood trees began to die off due to age, disease, and development. Bazillion Blooms was launched in 2009 to help replace these dead trees and to educate the community about planting for the future.
In 2009 Bazillion Blooms was planned to be a three-year initiative, but its popularity with the community made it become an annual event which will continue into the future. In 10 years they have planted over 10,000 trees, which have revitalized Knoxville dogwood population, remove thousands of pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere and improve stromwater catchment.
Bazillion Blooms is just one of Dogwood Arts many programs. Their mission is to “promote and celebrate the art, culture and natural beauty of our region” and they have programming to support each of these areas, listed here.
Vicki Baumgartner, Trails & Gardens Program Manager at Dogwood Arts is in charge of coordinating Bazillion Blooms. Her favorite thing about the event is how the Knoxville community can “enjoy the springtime beauty of East Tennessee and fully engage by ordering hundreds of dogwood trees every fall to plant for spring blooms”; she adds “everyone is willing to get their hands dirty to get the trees ready for distribution day. It’s great to be a part of such a dynamic community environmental program!”
For more information on Bazillion Blooms and Dogwood Arts visit their website, and be sure to check back in with our office next November to see ways to volunteer with the event.