Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The State Botanical Garden Of Georgia

Bordering the Middle Oconee River, The State Botanical Garden of Georgia provides a unique facility for education, recreation, entertainment and quiet reflection. This "living laboratory" is operated by the University of Georgia, located in nearby Athens, Georgia. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, founded in 1968, now includes over 300 acres of developed gardens and woodland, all connected by easily accessible walkways and trails. Hikers won't find a better place for hiking near Athens, GA. For students and public, it's a place to gain knowledge and enjoy garden beauty.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is located only 3 miles from the UGA campus, and about 5 driving miles from the center of Downtown Athens' Historic District. But inside the Garden one has a sense of solitude. Unpaved woodland trails can be accessed at several points throughout the property. Hikers who desire a more natural experience can do so.

It had been several years since we'd visited, so we wanted to see how the gardens have developed. We entered the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center and Conservatory. The lovely facility was made possible by the Callaway Foundation of LaGrange, GA. Alice Hand Callaway (1912-1998) was a civic leader and philanthropist who loved gardening, so the Visitor Center and Conservatory is a fitting tribute.

The Conservatory houses a small but delightful collection of tropical plant species including a display of significant food sources. On a hot summer day, you might be tempted to stay beside the brook rather than venture outdoors.

Outdoor plant collections are organized according to themes. The Heritage Garden highlights plants of historic socio-economic interest, especially to Georgians. The Herb and Physic Garden features plants of culinary and medicinal interest, such as thyme and lavender. The International Garden displays species of nearly all continents.

It's worthwhile noting that Georgia and other southeastern colonies were of great interest to plant explorers from Britain and Europe. Though sometimes it feels like nothing special to us, the southeastern United States is a botanical treasure. Seventeenth-century botanists must have been as excited at discovering plants here like Aesculus parviflora and Rhododendron prunifolia as others were when finding species like Lagerstroemia faurei in Japan. With that in mind, you should visit The Native Flora Garden and Native Azalea Garden with greater appreciation.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is growing. New vistas have opened for visitors to enjoy. Pleasant water features and garden art enhance the experience.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is a member of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP). The AHS RAP allows members of participating botanical gardens to enjoy benefits such as free admission or discounts at other member gardens. Admission to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is already free, but the RAP allows discounts in the gift shop.

Here's a map to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. If you're going to be in the area, check out the garden's schedule of events which may include entertainment and classes of special interest. Be sure to visit often.

Return to GoGardenNow.com.

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