Gardens all our own
Visit Georgia’s public gardens for inspiration
BY LAURA MARTIN
| Georgia's gem, the State Botanical Garden in Athens delights visitors throughout the year with dazzling horticultural displays. It is both an inspiration and an education to visit this botanical garden. (Photo courtesy of the Ga. Dept. of Economic Development)|
Gardeners who live in Georgia know we have a great climate for growing things. The result is stunningly beautiful home gardens and a surprising number of public gardens all around the state. For those who love to travel and to garden, visiting these places is extremely satisfying. Georgia is home to places such as Callaway Gardens, the State Botanical Garden and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, all of which are considered world-class gardens.
In addition to these, though, there are about 30 smaller public gardens throughout the state that offer unique opportunities for education and inspiration for both green-thumbers and armchair gardeners. For example, a trip out to the four-acre, Georgia Perimeter College Native Plant Garden in Decatur offers a quick education in growing the plants indigenous to our own region. Or, if you prefer more formal gardens, travel to Oak Hill—Martha Berry Museum in Rome to see All-America displays and a Colonial Revival garden. Or, if rhododendrons are your passion, be sure to visit the Hamilton Rhododendron Garden on the grounds of the Georgia Mountain Fair near Hiawassee in late spring.
Public gardens serve a unique purpose by offering visitors an opportunity to see a wide variety of plants grown in different settings, all within a familiar climate. Visiting gardens is one of the very best ways to learn more about gardening. You’ll get ideas, can see what plants look like when they are full grown and will undoubtedly be inspired by what you see. Whatever your gardening interest, there is sure to be a public garden in Georgia to please you.
Note: Be sure to determine hours of operation before you visit. Look at the Web site (if available) before you visit so you’ll have a better idea of what there is to see. If possible, check out what’s in bloom and what is of particular significance during different times of the year. You might even plan several garden “tours,” and visit multiple garden sites within the same general vicinity.
• Atlanta Botanical Garden, Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta; (404) 876-5859; www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. Also The Fuqua Conservatory, orchid center, children’s garden, rose, camellia, conifer and herb gardens.
• Atlanta History Center, West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta; (404) 814-4000; www.atlantahistorycenter.com. Also, the Tully Smith House historical garden, Swan woods trail, Cherry Sims Asian garden.
• Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens, southwest of Savannah; (912) 921-5460; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Giant Japanese timber bamboo, xeriscape demonstration garden.
• The Carter Center, Presidential Parkway, Atlanta; (404) 331-3900; www.cartercenter.org.
• Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain; (800) 225-5292; callawayonline.com. Highlights include: Day Butterfly Center, Sibley Horticultural Center, Mr. Cason’s vegetable gardens, nature trails, bike trails, Azalea bowl.
• Chatham County Garden Center and Botanical Garden, Savannah; (912) 355-3883.
• Columbus Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 701, Columbus; headquartered in W.C. Bradley Memorial Library (under construction); (706) 324-0418; www.columbusgarden.com.
• Dunaway Gardens, Newnan; (678) 423-4050; www.dunawaygardens. com.
• Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta; (404) 378-4311; www.fernbank sciencecenter.org.
• Founders Memorial Garden, Athens; (706) 542-4776; www.uga.edu/gar denclub/Founder.html
• Fulwood Garden Center, Tifton; (229) 386-8347.
• Gardens of Bankshaven, Newnan.
• Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Garden, Augusta; (888) 874-4443; www.gghf.org. Highlights include: 700 miniature roses, bronze sculptures of golf’s greatest players.
• Georgia Perimeter College Native Plant Garden, Decatur; (404) 244-5001; e-mail: email@example.com. Highlights include: 4 acres, 13th largest fern collection in U.S., 4,000 species of native, rare and endangered plants indigenous to the Southeast.
• Georgia Southern Botanical Gardens, Statesboro; (912) 871-1114; www.georgiasouthern.edu/garden.
• Hamilton Rhododendron Garden, Hiawassee; (706) 896-4191; www.georgia-mountain-fair.com. More than 3,000 plants bloom from early April to late May.
• Historic Mansell House and Gardens, 1825 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta; (770) 475-4663; www.ahsga.org.
• Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden, Conyers; (770) 602-2606.
• Lockerly Arboretum, Milledgeville; (912) 452-2112; www.lockerlyarbore tum.org
• Hills and Dales Estate, LaGrange; (706) 882-3242; hillsanddalesestate. org.
• Massee Lane, Fort Valley; (478) 967-2358; www.camellias-acs.com/masseelane.
• Oak Hill—Martha Berry Museum, Rome; (800) 220-5504; www.berry.edu/oakhill. Includes: All-America display garden, Colonial Revival garden.
• State Botanical Garden, Athens; (706) 542-1244; www.uga.edu/botgarden. Includes: 313-acre preserves; specialty gardens include international, heritage, native plants, dahlia, rose and rhododendron.
• Thomasville Rose Garden, (229) 227-7099, www.downtownthomasville. com/RoseFest.html.
• University of Georgia Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden, Athens; (888) 874-4443; www.uga.edu/ethnobot.
• UGA Trial Gardens, Athens; www.uga.edu/athensselect.
• University of Georgia Research and Education Garden, Griffin; (770) 229-3367; www.griffin.peachnet.edu.
• Vines Botanical Garden, Loganville; (770) 466-7532; www.vinesbotanical gardens.com.
• Waddell Barnes Botanical Garden, Macon State College, Macon; (912) 471-2780.
Laura Martin, of Atlanta, is the author of 25 books on gardening and nature crafts.