Giving in Action

Annual Fund gifts grow many programs at the Garden. Learn about a few recent examples that are realized through the generosity of Annual Fund giving.

More Highlights

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Interpreting the Garden

Committed to engaging visitors with compelling stories about plants and how they impact our lives, the Garden’s education team has recently replaced its interpretive signage with new streamlined content, photos and an elegant color scheme. The Garden also has more ephemeral signs. Termed “ephemeral” since they always change, these interpretive signs look similar to a small chalkboard (often with a hand-drawn illustration) and are designed to highlight a variety of beautiful, interesting or easily overlooked details around the Garden. Rotated regularly throughout the year, a sign by the reflecting pond of the Fuqua Conservatory may encourage visitors to look for the bullfrog tadpoles, while in the Edible Garden it may offer tips for the home gardener. Ephemeral signs may also highlight daylilies along the Great Lawn, the magnificent Tulip Poplar in Storza Woods or a particularly rare orchid blooming in the Fuqua Orchid Center. Unobtrusive but with an element of surprise, ephemeral signage helps to inspire curiosity in visitors while deepening their engagement with the natural world.

Fuqua Conservatory Improvements

Since its structural renovation in 2014, the Fuqua Conservatory has seen significant improvements in the growing conditions of its nationally recognized plant collection. This past year the soil was replaced with a new epiphytic mixture. Free draining and highly aerobic, the specialized planting compost is comprised of tree bark, charcoal and granular expanded clay and peat. New planting beds were also inoculated with an organic soil conditioner to improve overall soil and plant health. With the soil amended, the conservatory team dramatically expanded plant diversity and density by adding thousands of plants with many species new to the Conservatory.

As Conservatory Manager Paul Blackmore explains: "Visitors may now discover species native to the island of New Caledonia, including several highly endangered palms such as Basselinia pancheri, Burretiokentia vieillardii and Chambeyronia macrocarpa. From Madagascar we planted Tahina spectabilis, the most recently discovered palm genera, and also plants of the scientifically interesting Amborella trichopoda, believed to be the original flowering plant (Angiosperm)."

With the help of volunteers, his team also planted a collection of tropical trees such as Elaeocarpus angustifolius, several species of Ficus from New Caledonia, flowering vines from New Guinea and Strongylodon macrobotrys (the Jade Vine) from the Philippines. Ground cover such as ferns, the tree fern Cyathea intermedia and a variety of flowering species (gardenias, begonias and ginger) were also planted. Throughout the Fuqua Conservatory many new “beam boxes” and baskets were installed: half showcase the Old World theme with many species of Melastomes from the Philippines, including the fabulous Medinilla magnifica and species from New Guinea and Africa; the other half feature Melastomes from the New World including Blackea fuchsioides from Panama and numerous blueberry species from South America, such as Cavendishia axillaris

Horticulture Update: Frog Baby & Storza Woods

Tucked amidst the Perennial Garden is a small pond with its much beloved sculpture Frog Baby by Edith Parsons. In the spring the area encircling Frog Baby was replanted due to an infestation of the invasive plant houttuynia. To remove its entire root system, the horticulture team dug out 24" of soil. After replacing it, the ground was replenished with new plantings reflecting the colors and effervescent feel of the surrounding gardens. Burnet, canna, Stokes’ aster, spineless prickly pear, Mongolian aster and stonecrop are now on stunning display in this charming garden.

As part of the expansion in Storza Woods, a sidewalk system was installed. Due to its construction, the rerouting of a mulch path allowed for the replanting of a new large bed. Located at the end of the Canopy Walk below Sourwood Terrace, the horticulture team added approximately thirty hydrangeas (all cultivars of H. serrata) along with companion plants including, Rohdea japonica, Tricyrtis, Lobelia, Tiarella, and Acorus. In addition, 188 native azaleas were planted for display along the Azalea Walk. “Featuring a color palette progressing from yellow to hot pinks with whites and oranges intermixed,  native azaleas include 'Red Inferno', 'Sautee Sunset', 'Darlin's Dream', 'Country Cousin', 'Millenium' and 'Coleen O' to name just a few,” says Amanda Bennett, Manager of Display Gardens.

The Japanese maples Acer henryi and Acer triflorum were also planted in the Beechwood Overlook and in the Channel Overlook respectively. Grown at the Gainesville Garden, the two species are small understory trees with exceptional displays of red and orange in the autumn with the Acer triflorum exhibiting an attractive ornamental exfoliating bark.  

Middle School Garden Chefs

As part of the Garden’s outreach to underserved schoolchildren, the Garden launched the Middle School Summer Cooking Program. In partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, students from Crawford Long and Price Middle School participated in the Global Garden Chefs program. Through recipes inspired by Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Caribbean cuisine, students explored the cultural, social and sensory aspects of food while learning how to prepare healthy meals with ingredients fresh from the Garden.

With each day devoted to a specific culture’s cuisine, students learned about different ingredients and cooking techniques as well as how to plan menus. Reflecting on what food they cooked, its preparation and how it tasted, they documented their daily experiences in a “passport journal”. As part of their hands-on activities, students also learned how to grow produce by harvesting and weeding in the Garden. Kathryn Masuda the Garden’s Youth Programs Manager notes, through their culinary journey students “discovered where their food comes, the factors that affect their food choices and how those choices affect the environment.” For their final project, students cooked and served a three course restaurant-style lunch. At the end, each student took home their passport journal containing delicious, healthy recipes to share with family and friends.

Tis the Season for Camellias

With winter’s arrival, the Camellia Garden provides a welcome burst of color with shades of pink, red and white blooms against dark green leaves. Situated on the gentle hill looping down from the top of the Canopy Walk, the horticulture team has enhanced the Camellia Garden over the last few years with new plantings. Showcasing over 50 unique Camellias, the collection now represents more than a dozen different Camellia species including C. japonica, C. sasanqua and C. sinensis along with some unusual species rarely seen on display, such as the C. grijsii, C. handelii, C. rosiflora and C. yuhsienensis. With patterned bark in vertical stripes of dark to light green, six different types of Snakebark Maples have been planted to provide additional winter interest.

Creating visual interest during the summer, a new perennial layer featuring Epimedium, Astilbe, Hosta, Ferns, Solidago, Tradescantia, Tricyrtis, Heuchera and Phlox to name a few has evolved over the last few years. Plants from 25 different genus have been incorporated for a grand total of over 600 individual plants with Aster ‘Bluebird’ interspersed throughout to form a cohesive visual element. For a layer of spring color, several thousand bulbs were also planted, including various cultivars of Narcissus, Crocus, Scilla, Puschkinia, Chionodoxa and Camassia.  As part of their worldwide Daffodil Project, the organization Am Yisrael Chai donated Narcissus bulbs in memory of the children who died during the Holocaust.

Conservation Update: Fringed Leaf Frogs

The Garden’s amphibian conservation team has had an incredible captive breeding success with its Fringed Leaf Frogs (Cruziohyla craspedopus), a rare species with which they have worked since 2007. Unlike most frogs, Fringed Leaf Frogs do not need to come down to the ground to forage or breed, but instead remain high in the Amazonian tree canopy making them a challenge to find. Consequently, the Cruziohyla craspedopus is a difficult species for herpetologists to understand and breed.

However, the Garden’s amphibian specialists were resourceful. As the Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Coordinator Mark Mandica explains, “we created a ‘rain chamber’ from a modified trash can and then left the frogs alone. After a year’s wait, we achieved success with the birth of the Garden’s first Fringed Leaf Froglet!” The froglets have grown and are now “sub adult.” The conservation team has since succeeded in breeding the Fringed Leaf Frog a few more times and currently has twenty new tadpoles. Mandica says there are plans to publish research regarding the captive breeding of Cruziohyla craspedopus (most likely in the journal Herpetological Review) and to also donate one of the young adults to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for exhibition. The Garden was the first to ever exhibit this species with two adult Fringed Leaf Frogs on display in the Fuqua Conservatory’s Frogs of the Amazon exhibit.