Sunday, July 12, 2015

Botanical Garden – ABG in Gainesville

I recently visited the Smithgall Woodland Legacy area of the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) in Gainesville, GA. The 5-acre garden just opened in May of this year. The planted areas on both sides of the wide concrete walkway are packed with plants in a design meant to bring color to every season.

The 168-acre site was donated to ABG in 2002 by Lessie Smithgall and her late husband Charles A. Smithgall. In addition to the garden, but not open to the public, are a greenhouse and a nursery that are used by ABG staff for propagation, allowing it to broaden its conservation efforts.

The paths are wide and paved for easy access

My visit on a hot July day was with friends and we arrived at opening time to try and beat the heat. Our leisurely walk from the Visitor Center took us along the Woodland Promenade to the Stream Garden. We passed expertly designed beds of perennials and shrubs laid out underneath some of the remaining mature oaks. I appreciated the use of native perennials and shrubs in some areas.

Benches are found fairly often and we paused halfway through the Stream Garden.  The recirculating stream was beautifully done and blooming blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) was a cool contrast against the rocks. Just ahead was the Train Garden, a source of delight for all the toddlers that came by.

Purple coneflower and mountain mint plus some spring blooming plants

We stopped again in the nearby Glade Garden and admired the mix of native tall phlox, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.). The mountain mint was covered in happy bees. But the temperature was still rising, so we headed back towards the entrance, this time crossing over our previous path to check out the Overlook Garden.

For those folks looking for a more natural experience (or just more time outdoors), there are two unpaved ½ mile trails available: the Sourwood Trail and the Holly Ridge Trail. From the Overlook Garden we could see people walking along those paths.

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Last stop was the Forest Pond which laps two sides of the Visitor Center. Aquatic plants happily wiggled their roots in the wet edges. It was a beautiful and serene area. A children’s craft area was on the deck nearby.

As we drove out, I noticed extensive plantings of the late-blooming plumleaf azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium) along the drive.

Over the next few years, more features for the garden are planned. Check their website for activities and changes as they grow.

The tall purple flowers of alligator flag (Thalia dealbata) tower over the pond's edge
Plumleaf azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium) blooms in June-July

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to visiting this beautiful sanctuary. My schedule hasn't allowed me to make it there yet but I think I will wait until the cooler temperatures in fall. Did you see a lot of wildlife too?