Townsend River Walk & Arboretum 2023 Year In Review 

It has been 8 years since I began to help maintain the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum (TRWA) and this year, by far, this has been the most ambitious and satisfying year that I can remember.  With over 500 Volunteer hours and a tremendous core team, we were able to complete two major projects from our Master Plan and one unplanned project that fell into the TRWA, literally.  

If you aren't aware, the TRWA is a 100% volunteer effort.  We had several volunteers this year from the Tuckaleechee Garden Club, Blount County Master Gardeners and community members as well as a group of students from Ohio State led by Wanda DeWaard.   The time and effort put forth by these volunteers has allowed us to maintain and expand the TRWA beyond what any of us could have dreamt of, only a few short years ago.

Below are some of the highlights of 2023.  Unfortunately all of the activities that took place can't be listed.  We do appreciate everyone that has volunteered in 2023 as well as all the visitors that made their way to the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum to enjoy this wonderous setting.

Clearing and preparing the area for the Robert "Bob" & Elaine Russell Gregory Bald Azalea GardenClearing and preparing the area for the Robert "Bob" & Elaine Russell Gregory Bald Azalea Garden

Although we had many volunteers during 2023, I would like to recognize two members of our core team, Rodney and Allison Pearson of Townsend.  Without their involvement in planning and long term strategy as well as their dedication to enhance and maintain the TRWA, it would not be what it is today.  They are so diligent in their work and are such fun to work with, although we do have to placate Rodney and listen to his jokes.  Combined they volunteered 251 hours! They contributed much of the work that has taken place a the TRWA this past year. What a wonderful couple and their enthusiasm for the TRWA is infectious! Thanks Rodney & Allison. 

Rodney & Allison Pearson - TRWA Core Volunteers Extraordinaire! Rodney & Allison Pearson - TRWA Core Volunteers Extraordinaire!

The citizens of Townsend has also given us much support in both monetary donations and item donations (especially for the Faerie Garden).  In particular I would like to recognize, Suzie Holmes, our resident artist.  She has created seven wonderful wood spirits that are placed through out the TRWA .  Stop by and see if you can find them all as well as an 8th by an unknown artist. Thanks Suzie.


Suzie Holmes Wood Spirit TRWA 2023

Suzie Holmes - Wood Spirit - TRWA 2023


Here is a quick look at 2023 by the numbers.

Number of Volunteers

Volunteer Hours

Value of Volunteer Hours

Volunteer Miles Traveled

Contacts made with Visitors while Volunteering

Tons of Gravel Hauled & Spread
32 Tons

Yards of Mulch Spread
24 Yards

Bluebells Planted

Trees and Bushes Planted

Website Visitors

Website Page Views

Website Downloads of Trail Maps

Moon Pies (TRWA Snack of Choice) Eaten By Volunteers

Theresa Schehr Volunteering in the Gregory Bald Azalea GardenTheresa Schehr Volunteering in the Gregory Bald Azalea Garden


Ohio State Students Removing InvasivesOhio State Students Removing Invasives


A Review of the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum for 2023


Good-bye Winter the Spring Ephemerals have Arrived
Spring Bluebells at the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum

The Wildflowers were so picturesque this year and should continue to be for years to come.  The removal of invasive plants and trees as well as letting in a bit more light has transformed what was once just a green mess of invasive plants and trees into a magical world of Spring ephemerals and more! 

 Read More about the Flowers of the Spring of 2023

 Jack in the Pulpit blooming at the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum

 If you missed seeing the plants and trees throughout 2023, enjoy our
What's Blooming Slideshow for 2023


Timber! Down Goes the Honey Locust

March saw the winds down one of the largest trees at the TRWA, a 150+ year old Honey Locust that was approximately 120 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter.  The logs were then hauled away by Rodney Pearson, Dan Dickie and Dave Lavoie aka "Captain Dave" owner of Little River Artistry, where they were sawn in to boards.  Rodney then put several coats of preservative on them. Those boards are now being used at the TRWA as a bench and the decking for our bridge.  More will be used for 2024 projects.  A big thanks goes to Rodney, Dan and Captain Dave.

Read More About The Fall of the Honey Locust

 2023 Tuckaleechee Garden Club Plant Sale

The 2023 Tuckaleechee Garden Club Plant sale was held at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend and was the largest and most successful ever.  Funds from the plant sale help to fund Tuckaleechee Garden Club projects such as the Townsend River Walk & Arboretum.  Thanks to the Tuckaleechee Garden Club for such a great effort.

Read More About the 2023 Tuckaleechee Garden Club Plant Sale


 May Invasive Maintenance

In May, Wanda DeWaard and her son Cornelius brought a group of seven volunteers from Ohio State University to help with invasive removal.  They made a huge impact on the invasives that has now part of our Bluebell Trail passes.  It made a huge difference in the forest floor, allowing more native plants to start populating this once native plant wasteland.

Read More About this Group and the Work that was Completed


 Robert "Bob" & Elaine Russell Gregory Bald Azalea Garden

June saw the dedication of the Robert "Bob" and Elaine Russell Gregory Bald Azalea Garden, which was part of our original Master Plan.  Elaine and her late husband Bob, were responsible for the undertaking of creating the TRWA back in 2004. The garden was constructed and planted by members of the Tuckaleechee Garden Club who then installed a bench at the back of the garden that overlooks the TRWA, Faerie Garden Village and the Little River.  

Read More About the Bob & Elaine Russel Azalea Garden


 The Bluebell Trail

As a part of our Master Plan a new trail was designated that would be lined with bluebells, allow travel a bit closer to the Little River and would provide  folks a different view of the TRWA.  Allison & Rodney Pearson and Mark Seder took on this huge effort which was started the first of August and opened the end of November.  The construction of the trail included: a 20+ ft bridge; a bench; several waddle fences; construction of the trail bed involving about 20 ton of gravel; planting of over 300 bluebells and construction of steps that lead back to the main trail. Over 230 work hours have been spent so far and over 60 Moon Pies have been consumed.  It has been a very rewarding project and I encourage you to stop by and take a walk on it yourself.

 Read about the Bluebell Trail Construction and Read about the Opening of the Bluebell Trail


 Finally no report on 2023 would be complete if we didn't mention the Faerie Garden Village.  It has become a Townsend community project that has taken on a life of it's own and in 2023 it has grown immensely.  Townsend citizens have donated items, Faeries, Faerie housing and most precious of all their time.  It is an interactive village open for all children to play and enjoy. 


Finally, I would also like to thank the City of Townsend for their support.  They have done a fantastic job of keeping the areas around the TRWA mowed and also participated in the dedication for the Robert "Bob" & Elaine Russell Gregory Bald Azalea Garden. 

Anyone that has not been to the TRWA recently, I urge to take the time and head to Townsend, enjoy a walk thru the TRWA and enjoy all the wonderful additions. 

Thanks to everyone for a great 2023 and join us for our 20th Anniversary in 2024.

Mark Seder - TRWA Coordinator