Giving in Action
Renovations of Crepe Myrtle Allee & Southern Seasons Garden
Heralding summer at the Garden with its showy clusters of white blooms, Crepe Myrtle Allée underwent a significant renovation earlier this year. 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,” explains Manager of Display Gardens Amanda Bennett. Aucuba japonica, Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ and the fragrant Corylopsis glabrescens were also added to better blend Crepe 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. This year 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 & Collections Mapping
Since the Dorothy Fuqua Conservatory’s recent structural renovation, Manager of the Conservatory 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, this year they added tropical conifers from New Caledonia. A hot spot of biodiversity under threat from mining and logging, New Caledonia is home to over 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. Over the last year 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. Currently 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 our ecosystem, discovered the diversity of seeds and leaves, and learned to identify species of Georgia’s native trees. This year the Garden expanded the outreach program 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, this year we 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, our 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, seventy-five 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.
Over 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. Some of this year’s delicious recipes included: Okra, Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad; Lemongrass Hummus; Strawberry, Avocado, Kale Salad; and Roasted Pumpkin Harvest Stew.
Extending the boundaries of the Outdoor Kitchen, visitors and the community at large can find the featured recipes on the Garden’s website.