Gallatin flower lady cultivates a secret garden

Flowers bloom on a vacant lot in Gallatin
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 19:50:36-04

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — A volunteer known as the ‘Gallatin Flower Lady’ has spent years growing an urban garden to help pollinators and the community.

Gardening is a form of art for Alecia Welbern. “This is a pollinator garden, and the first year, I didn’t even have any birds," Welbern said.

When cultivating a garden, you reap what you sow. Now, butterflies, bees, and birds visit it. "And when I came in this morning, they were getting the seeds off,” Welbern said. “So I don’t deadhead everything."

While beautiful, the garden isn't exactly peaceful as firetrucks race by it on Water Street. The lot in downtown Gallatin sat vacant for a half-century before it was filled with plants. It used to be a dive bar or café. Welbern said. "Well the eyesore is gone."

The community is now enjoying the fruits of her labor. "People have asked me if I want the concrete taken up and I said no. I like the oxymoron of what this represents,” Welbern said. “How things just grow out of the cracks."

Residents often stop by to ask about it as she volunteers. 6-year-old Jacob Joslin helped pull some weeds after he stopped by with his dad, Don. It only took a few minutes of chatting to learn that Jacob's mom is sick with lung cancer. As tears swelled in her eyes, the Gallatin Flower Lady picked a few stems for Jacob’s mom. Welbern said. "When people need something the most, there they are... just a simple bouquet."

It's moments like these that remind her why it's important to stop and smell the roses. "That is the reason why I do this," Welbern said.

The Gallatin Flower Lady is asking for vase donations at city hall so she can give bouquets to people in need. She also gives an attorney flowers in exchange for water. The city brings by dirt when she needs it too.