Giving in Action
Learn more about how your contribution directly affects the Garden's mission to develop and maintain plant collections for the purpose of display, education, research, conservation and enjoyment.
For details and to arrange your gift, please contact:
Kaila J. Biggio, Development Officer, Individual Support
Email or 404-591-1575
Renovation of the Conservation Garden
HISTORY Since 2002, the Conservation Garden has laid tucked away on the far side of the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory. A living model of a Southeastern wetland, this unique garden was introduced to illustrate the Garden’s developing conservation work with rare and endangered native plant species. The Conservation Garden demonstrated the rich biodiversity of wetlands through striking displays of pitcher plants, rare orchid species such as the Chapman’s fringed orchid (Platanthera chapmanii), and allied species. Over time, however, the wetland habitat evolved into a meadow dominated by grasses, ferns and small trees, which caused the pitcher plants to decline.
TRANSFORMATION With the transformation of the Garden’s southern edge into the Skyline Garden, the Conservation Garden was redesigned. Showcasing the beauty of native pitcher plants, the new Conservation Garden also demonstrates their botanical importance as one of the Garden’s signature conservation collections.
The sensitive nature of these imperiled species meant that as many plants as possible needed to be preserved during the site renovation. Fuqua Conservatory Manager Paul Blackmore and his dedicated team removed, cleaned and then transported thousands of plants to the Garden’s conservation nursery for safekeeping. Blackmore’s team then cleared, re-shaped, and landscaped the bogs, hand-mixing specialized compost using 280 bales of peat moss and 5 tons of masonry sand.
Over 120 species of plants were replanted according to a new design that features three main bogs of pure species pitcher plants (Sarracenia flava plus S.alata; Sarracenia leucophylla plus groups of S.purpurea; and Sarracenia alabamensis). Two other beds display mixed hybrid pitcher plants. In addition, groupings of herbaceous and woody plants were installed in dry, raised planting areas including: hibiscus, asters, blueberries, milkweed, Stokes’ aster, and woody species such as rhododendrons, wax myrtle and Spiraea. Today the Conservation Garden tells a visually splendid story of beauty and conservation, and is a not-to-be-missed destination when visiting the Skyline Garden.
Garden Internship Program
Committed to helping young people of all backgrounds engage and connect with the natural world, in 2018, the Garden launched an internship program for Title 1 high school students. Designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn firsthand about plant-based careers, the program also “helps participants improve their college and career skills while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of plants,” explains Lorin Boren, the Garden’s School Programs Assistant Manager.
Lasting seven weeks, the summer program included ten interns from five Title I high schools within the Atlanta Public School District. Assigned a Garden staff member to be their mentor, interns spent the mornings working with staff on a variety of hands-on projects such as weeding, repotting, watering, planting trees and helping with children’s education programs. Mentors and other staff encouraged the interns to problem solve, step-out of their comfort zones, and work through challenges to complete their projects successfully.
Afternoons were dedicated to developing the interns’ college and career skills. Classes included professional etiquette, resume building, personality assessment, workplace communication, and basic financial planning.
For their final project, the interns shared their experiences with a presentation session for their peers and Garden staff. Topics included the Japanese Garden, Toxic Plants used Medicinally, and the Venus Flytrap. Delighted in their progress, Lorin observes that each intern “successfully exhibited growth in their knowledge and appreciation of plants, as well as their confidence and presentation abilities.”
Renovations of the Great Lawn’s Color Border & Southern Seasons Promenade
Heralding summer with its radiant blooms, the color border framing the Great Lawn underwent a significant renovation in 2018. Since exhibitions had altered the area over time, the horticulture team decided it should revert to reflect the original planting design.
“We evaluated and adjusted the original plan by making choices based on its overall intent, and then replanted using current cultivars,” explains Amanda Bennett, Manager of Display Gardens. The color border’s original design featured warm colors, mixed shrubs and perennials in large sweeps bordered by annuals on the lawn side. Showcasing brilliant hues of red, yellow, orange and pink, plantings now include Dianthus American Pie TM ‘Bumbleberry Pie’, striking goldenrod Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, and the peachy-yellow flower clusters of Achillea millefolium ‘Terra Cotta’. Daylilies Hemerocallis ‘Bright Carnival’ and ‘Cherokee Star’ create pops of cherry red and yellow while scarlet trumpet blooms of Bouvardia ternifolia, yellow sprays of Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’, and Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ attract butterflies and hummingbirds all summer long.
From the Hardin Visitor Center, the Garden’s entry promenade leads visitors along a gentle incline to be greeted by the lush surroundings of Southern Seasons. To enhance the verdant woodland aesthetic, the promenade’s upper left slope was replanted in spring of 2018. Revisiting the original planting design, the horticulture team selected shrubs and shrubby perennials that would create a cool backdrop of purple, green and white with seasonal pops of red and orange. During warmer months, violet-blue Geranium ‘Rozanne’, bi-colored purple and white columbine Aquilegia vulgaris ‘William Guinness’ and Indian pink Spigelia marilandica help attract butterflies and hummingbirds. For the winter, the slope now features American holly, Sweet Box and the ornamental paperbush Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akabana’ with its vivid orange blooms and sweet fragrance.
New Plantings in Gainesville
In 2016-18, the team at the Gainesville Garden focused on planting numerous trees and perennials to “enhance its nationally recognized collections while also creating stunning seasonal color for visitor enjoyment,” explains Ethan Guthrie, Horticulture Manager.
SUN AND SHADE PERENNIALS Amongst the variety of Salvias planted to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, the scarlet, magenta, and rosy-purple blooms of ‘Scarlet Spires’, ‘Wendy’s Wish’ and ‘Love and Wishes’ create a cheerful welcome by the visitor center. Along the tranquil Stream Garden, the new hybrid Salvia ‘Ignition Purple’ with its bright purple flowers and the blue spikes of Salvia macrophylla complement the water feature, while late summer brings the striking purple and chartreuse blooms of Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ to admire. To attract pollinators, native yellow and purple spotted beebalm Monarda punctata was also planted, as well as Sinningia brasiliensis, the green and red flowers of which are bat-pollinated in their native Brazil.
To incorporate color and texture, shade perennials were added to the Overlook Garden. Delicate primrose hybrids bring early season splashes of color, while the chartreuse foliage of Astilbe chinensis ‘Amber Moon’ brightens the overlook with rose pink plumes arriving in summer. Ligularia japonica ‘Chinese Dragon’ displays ornate cut-leaf foliage with spikes of yellow flowers that also attract butterflies. Integrated too amongst the plantings is Carex scaposa, a showy edge native to the woodland slopes of south China that features arching wide leaves with hot pink blooms in mid-to-late summer.
ENHANCING THE COLLECTION Significantly adding to the Garden’s nationally recognized Magnolia collection, new magnolias were planted along Sweetbay Drive, including the patented M. ‘Melissa Parris’ that displays magnificent pink and white flowers in late spring. Other new woody plants along the entry road include: Walter’s dogwood (Cornus walteri) a hard to find species that grows up to 40’ tall, the white fringe tree Chionanthus virginicus and the evergreen dogwood Cornus elliptica.
Renovations of Crape Myrtle Alleé
Heralding summer at the Garden with its showy clusters of white blooms, Crape Myrtle Allée underwent a significant renovation earlier in 2017. For displays of blooms during the fall, winter and early spring months, the horticulture team planted camellias and flowering quince along this graceful pathway. The ‘October’ series of camellias was chosen since they are “more compact than traditional cultivars making them suitable for urban gardens,” said Manager of Display Gardens Amanda Bennett. Aucuba japonica, Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ and the fragrant Corylopsis glabrescens were also added to better blend Crape Myrtle Allée with its surroundings.
Showcasing the Garden’s recognized hydrangea collection, Southern Seasons features shade to part-sun loving plants that grow well in the Southeast. However, the lush area below Fern Dell Fountain presents a horticultural challenge due to consistently moist soil combined with dappled sunlight. In 2017, the horticulture team replanted the dell with species that thrive in these conditions. Complementing the hydrangeas’ color palette, a sea of greens, pinks, white, deep violet and blues now greets visitors. Plantings include dixie wood ferns (Dryopteris australis), astilbe with its pink and white plumes and fern-like foliage, and fragrant Clethra alnifolia 'Novacleein' heralding spikes of white blooms in the summer. ‘Woodlanders Blue’ Zenobia pulverulenta has been integrated to form a foreground of silvery blue foliage accented with white bell-shaped flowers during the spring. Prized for its long spires of deep violet blooms, stunning Lobelia gerardii ‘Vedrariensis’ creates vertical interest while attracting bees, swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds.
Tropical Rotunda and Collections Mapping
Since the Fuqua Conservatory’s structural renovation, Conservatory Manager Paul Blackmore and his team have continued to replant and enrich its living collections. Installing plants of botanical and conservation importance from regions around the globe, they added tropical conifers from New Caledonia. A hot spot of biodiversity under threat from mining and logging, New Caledonia is home to more than 2500 species of plants endemic (native only) to this extraordinary archipelago located between Australia and Fiji. Primarily considered to be endangered or threatened, the new conifers include Acmopyle pancheri, Dacrydium araucariodes, Agathis moorei and Agathis montana, and the scientifically significant Amborella trichopoda – believed to be among the oldest surviving species of angiosperm (flowering plants). Another exciting addition to the Malagasy and New Caledonian palms collections is the recently discovered Tahina spectabilis, an entirely new genus of palm from Madagascar!
An important part of curating a botanical garden’s plant collections is the challenging process of “collections mapping” – behind-the-scenes work that allows for the accurate and efficient management of complex collections. Mike Wenzel, Plant Recorder, Sarah Morris, Plant Records Assistant, and their team of stellar volunteers have been mapping the Fuqua Conservatory. High quality computerized maps are being developed using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) that succeed in plotting the location of its thousands of plants. The team has mapped upwards of 500 specimens, many of which are rare and endangered.
Children in the Garden
Enriching the minds of children and educating them about the important role plants play in our lives is an integral part of the Garden’s mission. In 2015, the Garden began free outreach programs for Title 1 school students. With presentations designed to meet Georgia Performance Standards, Garden educators visited K – 5 and 7th grade classrooms to teach children in underserved communities about the natural world. Through hands-on activities students learned about the importance of bees and amphibians to Earth's ecosystem, discovered the diversity of seeds and leaves, and learned to identify species of Georgia’s native trees. The Garden expanded outreach programs to include two new high school presentations: DNA Barcoding for the Budding Biologists and Balancing Act: Keeping Habitats Healthy. Since the outreach program began, Garden educators have reached over 9,000 underserved students. In addition, over 3,600 students from Title 1 schools received complimentary admission to the Garden, where they learn about the life sciences through exploration of the Garden’s diverse plants and habitats.
In partnership with the City of Atlanta’s Cultural Experience Project, the Garden welcomed nearly 5,000 kindergartners from the Atlanta Public Schools to experience Kinder in the Garden. With the Garden as their classroom, they explored the Garden’s diverse living collections, from the tropical palms and orchids of the Fuqua Conservatory and Orchid Center to the bounty of the Edible Garden. Youth Programs Manager Kathryn Masuda enthusiastically explains: “At interactive discovery stations, docents and Garden staff introduced excited and curious children to the world of carnivorous plants, the smells and textures of herbs and the colorful frogs of the rainforest!”
Gainesville Garden: Expanding the Collection
In 2016 numerous plants were incorporated into Gainesville’s existing collections while also creating stunning autumn color showcasing vibrant red, orange and golden hues. An important goal was to “incorporate new and unusual species, many of which had previously not been represented in the Garden’s collections,” explains Gainesville’s Horticulture Manager Ethan Guthrie. For instance, the Garden's nationally recognized maple collection now includes four new distinct Acer species: Acer buergerianum 'Naruto' (noted for its unusual inward curling leaves), Acer stachyophyllum, Acer cissifolium and Acer tataricum ssp. semonovii.
Other additions of significant woody plants include: Chionanthus 'Tokyo Tower' – a Chinese fringetree whose upright form is ideal for smaller gardens; three species of European and American hornbeam tree including Carpinus caroliniana 'Firespire' – aptly named for its dramatic orange and red fall foliage – and Carpinus kawakamii, grown from seed collected in Taiwan; Syringa reticulate – Japanese tree lilac that displays fragrant, creamy white flowers in early summer; Zelkova carpinifolia – the endangered Caucasian Elm native to the mountainous Caucausus region of southeastern Europe and southwest Asia; Magnolia lotungensis – the eastern joy lotus tree showcasing fragrant ivory flowers with distinctive purple stamens; and Schefflera delavayi – a hardy tropical looking evergreen with fall blooming tiny white flowers. All were grown at the Gainesville Garden’s nursery, many from seed or cuttings. Eventually some will serve as canopy replacement trees to provide shade needed in areas cleared by construction.
New Plant Varieties
A major planting along the Ivester Amphitheater’s Western Garden Walk was also completed. Through a generous seed donation from Ball Seed Company, the greenhouse team successfully grew the new Canna varieties Canna Cannova ‘Mango’ and ‘Orange Shades.’ To incorporate splashes of color throughout the season, 75 of each variety were planted, along with the stunning yellow blooming daylily Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion,’ vivid blue columbine Aquilegia dichroa and violet hued Iris tectorum. Additionally, new Gaillardia varieties ‘Mesa Yellow’, ‘Mesa Red’ and ‘Mesa Bicolor’ along with zinnias ‘Zahara XL’, ‘White Zahara XL’ and ‘Fire Improved’ were grown and integrated into the perennial border around the event lawn. As part of the partnership, the horticulture team will provide Ball Seed Company feedback on the varieties that were grown.
More than 6,000 Experience Culinary Delights
Showcasing seasonal recipes using ingredients harvested from the Edible Garden, the Garden Chef cooking demonstrations held in the Outdoor Kitchen have proven to be extremely popular. In 2016 over 6,000 visitors of all ages attended these engaging demos where they discovered healthy and delicious recipes to try at home.
Abby Gale, Public Programs Manager, describes the vision behind the programming: “Our talented Garden Chefs are charged with presenting visitors new ways of incorporating fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables into our diets to help us live healthier lifestyles.” Designed to be simple for home cooks to prepare, the mouth-watering recipes often include ingredients harvested from the Edible Garden such as figs, tomatoes, kale, okra, blackberries, zucchini and sweet potatoes.
Extending the boundaries of the Outdoor Kitchen, visitors and the community at large can find the featured recipes on the Garden’s website.
After School Program
An integral part of the Garden’s educational programs to underserved children, the After School Program welcomes excited third, fourth, and fifth graders every year from seven Title I schools to attend four days a week for four weeks.
Rooted in the Common Core and Georgia Performance Standards, the program activates classroom learning through hands-on activities and engaging experiences. Topics include the life cycle of plants, biomes and their characteristics, plant and animal adaptations, animal classification and the habitats of Georgia.
Melissa Carlberg, teacher, explains "the After School Program mission is to provide students, who would not normally have the chance, the opportunity to deepen their knowledge through real-world experiences, while empowering them to take responsibility and risks in their learning.” Students achieve this by developing writing, reading, speaking, critical thinking, problem solving, and scientific inquiry skills. To cultivate ownership in their learning, students explore, experiment, and collaborate with each other.
In 2012 and 2013, students showed on average a 9% improvement on post evaluation scores. Currently, approximately140 students are reached annually. Tracy McClendon, the Garden’s Vice President of Programs, hopes to expand the program through the additional support of donors.
Conifer Garden Renovation
Designated as an American Conifer Society Reference Garden, the Conifer Garden has undergone a transformation. The horticulture team has removed overgrown, crowded and undesirable specimens replanting the opened spaces with dwarf varieties of conifer and ground covers.
Showcasing dwarf and rare conifers, the Conifer Garden is designed to “educate the public about growing conifers, familiarize gardeners with new varieties of conifers, and demonstrate conifer use in the home landscape,” explains Senior Horticulturalist Kathryn Moomaw. New specimens include: six juniper, chamaecyparis, cryptomeria, and thuja cultivars, wild collected Podocarpus forrestii, Juniperus recurva, Cryptomeria japonica, and Platycladys orientalis. Some plantings came as far away as Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in California and Cedar Lodge Nursery in New Zealand.
Creating visual interest, ground covers were also integrated to demonstrate the wide variety of unusual ones available to homeowners. In 2013, thirteen different plant families were planted with some being evaluated to determine how well they grow in the Southeast. For instance, Gesneriads (traditionally considered tropical or indoor plants) are being evaluated for their cold hardiness.
Hardy Succulents Garden
The Hardy Succulents Garden is enhanced with new plantings and integrated with new specimens.
Alongside the Fuqua Conservatory where the Agave americana bloomed, it has been replanted with cacti and succulents. Displaying red berries in late fall and winter, Opuntia leptocaulis (Desert Christmas Cactus) has been relocated to this area, as well as the cacti Opuntia tunicata var. rosea and Opuntia rufida (Blind Prickly Pear) so that they may reach their full potential. Species not previously represented, such as Echinocactus texensis and Mammillaria elongatea, have also been planted.
The Hardy Succulents Garden features hardy plantings native primarily to the southwestern United States, northern Mexico, Africa and South America.
A popular wedding location, the Trustees Garden has been given a more contemporary aesthetic with new plantings.
To reflect the distinct architecture of the space, landscape designer Tres Fromme redesigned the perennial beds flanking the fountain to have a strong shape and clean pattern. Cone-shaped, 5’ tall, boxwood topiaries now anchor the two beds. Choosing a neutral color pallet, pink and white hydrangeas, along with white hibiscus, create a soft background for summer weddings and intimate gatherings.
Tucked behind the Fuqua Conservatory in the Conservation Garden, visitors can view a stream that represents a calcareous spring run, a habitat characterized by high mineral content from a source of flowing groundwater. The stream is constructed to highlight the fragile ecosystems of native wetlands and the Garden’s critical conservation work on these habitats.
Threatened by development, agriculture, silviculture, and invasive species, calcareous spring runs and fens are some of the rarest and most endangered of Georgia’s habitats, with plant species found nowhere else in the world. As part of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 5 Star Restoration Grant program, the conservation team works with partners to restore wetlands in Northwest Georgia through invasive species removal and land management. Thousands of rare plants have been propagated, such as Georgia Alder, Virginia Spiraea, and Tennessee Yellow-Eyed grass, for recovery and outplanting to restored habitats.
Look for these endangered plants along the stream and in the Conservation Garden, along with a variety of native orchid species including: Spiranthes vernalis, S. lacera v. gracilis, S. odorata, S. cernua, Platanthera clavellata, Platanthera integrilabia, Calopogon tuberosus, Pogonia ophioglossoides, and Habenaria repens.
The Fuqua Conservatory’s Desert House has a new display of plant specimens endemic (native) to Socotra. Sanskrit for “island of bliss,” Socotra is an archipelago off of the Horn of Africa, belonging to the Republic of Yemen. Designated a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, a third of Socotra’s unique flora is found nowhere else on earth. Some remarkable examples of Socotra flora successfully propagated by the Garden for display include: Dendrosicyos socotrana, Euphorbia arbuscula, Euphorbia abdelkuri, Cissus subaphylla and Hibiscus scottii.
Endangered and extremely rare in cultivation, Dendrosicyos socotrana is a member of the cucumber family and one of the tallest trees on Socotra. The Garden’s specimen has a way to grow before it reaches an approx. 6 meters in height! Unlike its relative Cissus sicyoides, with roots hanging from the rafters of the tropical rotunda, the Cissus subaphylla is a low growing, shrub-like plant in the grape family. Euphorbia arbuscula and Euphorbia abdelkuri lack leaves and flowers and are known for their highly toxic latex sap.
Native to Madagascar and southern Africa, larger specimens of Pachypodiums and Adeniumsare also on display. Intimidating with tall, upright spiny trunks ranging from dark gray to silver, Pachypodiums exhibit alluring flowers in late winter and early spring. Often called “desert roses,” Adeniums have pink flowers, a brilliant contrast against the desert’s backdrop of thorns and spines.