The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is a unit of the University of Georgia. The 313-acre preserve is located three miles from the center of Athens, just south of the University’s main campus. Flower gardens celebrate beauty and teach visitors about the importance of pollinators, who evolved alongside their colorful floral partners. Plantings in the Flower Garden change with the seasons.
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The garden also includes a Meditation Walk and a Woodland Walk. The Heritage Garden evokes history with brick walls and manicured hedging of pass-along perennials. Modeled after the historical gardens of the rural south, Savannah and Charleston, the heritage gardens include Dogwood, Magnolias, Azaleas and Confederate Roses, as well as crops such as tobacco, cotton and indigo. Many of these same flowering trees are found in the Shade and Native Flora Gardens. In the spring, this garden showcases native wildflowers in bloom and offers a leisurely stroll with plenty of places to stop and sit on benches under the shade of structures and climbing plants. The International Garden combines history with botany by exploring the connection between plants and humans. The International Garden contains a Cloister Garden and Herb Garden representative of the Middle Ages. Plants from the Mediterranean and Middle East are found in the Age of Exploration Garden. A Threatened and Endangered Collection represents today’s Age of Conservation.
Five miles of nature trails wind through the Botanical Garden. Seven different hiking trails are identified by color and traverse alongside a river, through wetlands, across prairies of wildflowers and into the woods. The White Trail is the Garden’s most challenging hike, and takes guests away from the river into the hills through Hardwood Forests. The trails offer robust wildlife viewing. In addition to deer, wild turkeys and squirrels, many birds can be seen. A Hummingbird Trail, active from May through October, consists of 21 markers that point out areas frequented by hummingbirds, and the plants that attract them.
A Children’s Garden was added in 2017. The environment inspires learning and an appreciation of nature through play across more than 2 acres designed specifically for young visitors. Over 50,000 children visit the State Garden each year.
Greenhouses grow the seedlings that will be planted outdoors when seasons change. The state-of-the-art facilities are climate controlled. Although not open to the public daily, Greenhouses may be toured by special appointment. A Tropical Conservatory is located in the Visitor Center. Tropical plants are displayed in the Great Room, which, alongside the Day Chapel and Garden Club Terrace Room, may be rented for weddings and special events.
History: Land for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia was gifted by the University of Georgia in 1968. The living laboratory provides educational and research facilities and programming for the University, alongside its role as a public service for the citizens of Georgia. The Garden’s mission includes fostering appreciation for nature, as well as the acquisition and dissemination of information related to botany and the local flora of the American southwest. Friends of the Garden is a charitable organization which supports the State Botanical Garden of Georgia through membership, plant sales, and educational programming.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The Garden participates in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance by cultivating and storing seeds of endangered or threatened native species, as well as growing, propagating and augmenting populations of native plants where appropriate. The Georgia Native Plant Initiative programs, supported by the Botanical Garden, encourage local gardeners to make use of native and local plant species. The Connect-to-Protect program reaches out to gardeners across the state to encourage best practices for the protection of local species and to support their role in feeding and sheltering the local insect population.
At the Garden’s Center for Native Plant Studies educational programming for adults includes a Certificate Program in Native Plants. Garden Symposia are one-day educational programs that teach about native plants and more. The Native Plants Symposium is an annual event sponsored by the Garden Club of Georgia each January. Garden Rambles and Nature Rambles are led by Professors at the University of Georgia and take visitors on walks through the Botanical Garden to learn more about seasonal topics. Classes, workshops and series cover everything from beekeeping to flower arranging and are offered throughout the year. Students at the University of Georgia are exposed to public horticulture, restoration ecology and conservation science through undergraduate courses sponsored by the Center for Native Plant Studies.
2450 S. Milledge Avenue Athens, GA 30605, Phone: 706-542-1244