Some of the Garden’s most significant work lies behind its beautiful public displays. In greenhouses, freezers, laboratories and nurseries, the Garden’s highly skilled conservation horticulturists develop and maintain safeguarding collections.
One of these is the Conservation Safeguarding Nursery, located at the (Gainesville Garden). The largest of its kind in the Southeast, the nursery is still expanding, most notably with the construction of a 3,500-square-foot bog to provide a habitat for native wetland flora, including pitcher plants and native orchids. A large prairie habitat has also been created, mimicking the prairie found in parts of northwest Georgia, an ecosystem rich in diversity and containing many threatened species.
The nursery holds a safeguarding collection of Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia), a highly endangered conifer found only in very specific site conditions in southern Georgia and Florida. Other recent accessions are two populations of Platanthera integrilabia (Monkey Face Orchid), a recent addition to the Endangered Species Act.
More than 140 raised beds containing accessioned collections now includes an Asclepias (milkweed) project involving 10 species of milkweed – the key food source of endangered Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. An ongoing project, the prairie habitat contains Helianthus verticillatus, Croton alabamensis, Penstemon cobaea, Clematis fremontii, and more.