Samford Park landscape improvement project underway

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Auburn University's Samford Park is undergoing a facelift to clear walkways, add vibrant year-round color and increase greenspace.

"Samford Park is important to the Auburn Family, and we want to make sure everyone is able to enjoy its beauty, open space and historic views year-round," said Steven Johnston, Facilities Management Landscape Services superintendent, who is overseeing the landscape improvement project.

Johnston's crews recently began work by removing shrubs from plant beds in front of Hargis Hall. This work will continue in phases, moving toward Langdon and Samford Halls and the famed Auburn University sign before wrapping up in early spring.

The park was completely redesigned following Hurricane Opal in 1995. Numerous hollies, camellias, evergreen azaleas and other plant species were incorporated into the landscape. Over time, these plants have become overgrown and are crowding walkways and blocking views of historic buildings lining the park, said Gary Keever, Auburn University professor of horticulture and Facilities Management landscape consultant.

"Many of these plants will be removed and replaced with turfgrass to increase greenspace," he said. "New annuals, perennials and small-scale flowering shrubs will be incorporated into the landscape to increase seasonal color."

The park's redevelopment is being done in two stages. Phase I will be completed Feb. 14 with the planting of two live oaks at Toomer's Corner, and Phase II, which begins in April and is scheduled for completion in spring 2016, will include the planting of 30 more special oak trees.

The current project includes initial preparations for Phase II, which calls for live oaks, grown from acorns taken from the iconic Auburn Oaks, to be planted along a new brick walkway that will connect Samford Hall to Toomer's Corner.

In preparation for Phase II, crews will begin to relocate some of the park's famed Smitherman azaleas which are currently in the new walkway's path.

"The beloved azaleas were bred by R.O. Smitherman, a former professor in Auburn University's School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences," Keever said. "Crews will preserve the azaleas by relocating them to other areas of the park. These plants have provided outstanding spring color for many years, and we want to ensure park visitors continue to enjoy these plants for years to come."

Initial phases of the landscape improvement project can be viewed via Auburn University's Samford Park webcam at

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