Grand Gardens: From Atlanta to the Mountains of North Georgia
The scent of camellias. The crunch underfoot of tiny gray gravel. The rhythmic rustle of a water fountain. Nothing like a walk in a garden to awaken the senses and let the world fade away.
In fact, research has shown that depression and stress levels decrease when immersed in nature.
Atlanta residents are fortunate to live in a garden area that brings to life a wide array of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Local gardens change with the seasons as azaleas and rhododendrons emerge in the spring, ferns and flowers explode in the summer, and in the fall the trees show new colors in the mountains of North Georgia.
Here are some gardens to visit nearby.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Midtown Atlanta displays large-scale origami pieces throughout the garden until mid-October, when the landscape turns into a spooky Halloween treat. The origami installation features nearly 70 museum-quality metal sculptures inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding by Santa Fe artists Kevin and Jennifer Box, Te Jui Fu, Beth Johnson, Michael G. LaFosse and Robert L.Lang. Visitors can enjoy cocktails in the garden with live music Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Address: 1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30309
Contact: 404-876-5859 or www.atlantabg.org
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May to October. Check the website for hours outside of these months.
Cost: Registration fees range from $25 to $50. Flexible tickets cost more but allow for flexibility due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. Parking rates vary.
Cator Woolford Garden
Cator Woolford Garden is best known as an event location. On 39 acres of old-growth forest, visitors will find scenery worthy of a family photo or an hour of exploring. In the intown neighborhood of Lake Claire, this hidden gem is often enjoyed by neighbors.
Address: 1815 S. Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, Georgia 30307
Contact: 404-377-3836 or www.catorwoolfordgardens.org
Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset, unless an event is organised.
Georgia State University Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden
Georgia State University Perimeter College’s Native Plant Botanical Garden is located near the southeast corner of I-285 and I-20. In 1990, professor of botany George Sanko created the garden. Over the years it has become known for its native plants including azaleas, magnolias, viburnums, pitcher plants, sundews, carnivorous plants, wildflowers and ferns.
Address: 3251 Panthersville Road, Decatur, Georgia, 30034
Contact: 678-891-2668 or www.sites.gsu.edu/pcnativegarden
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.
Cost: Free. Visitors can park in lot 5 for GPC staff and students.
Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw is family owned with events and classes. Visitors can learn about a wide range of topics ranging from Cherokee Native American plants and agriculture to ecosystems. Don’t miss: the bonsai collection, an award-winning butterfly exhibit and hummingbirds.
Address: 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30152
Contact: 770-919-0248 or www.smithgilbertgardens.com
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are timed. Free for children under 3, $5 for 3-17 and military/students, $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors over 65.
swan house is located on West Paces Ferry Road, one of Atlanta’s fanciest stretches of road. Located behind the Atlanta History Center, Swan House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was occupied by the original family until 1966, when the Atlanta Historical Society established its headquarters there. Goizueta Gardens features 33 acres of woodland gardens and trails steeped in local history.
Address: 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Contact: 404-814-4000 or www.atlantahistorycenter.com/buildings-and-grounds/swan-house/
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; historic homes open at 11 a.m.
Cost: Tickets are free for ages 4 and under, $10 for ages 4-12, $20 for students and seniors, and $24 for adults. Parking is free.
woodland gardens is an urban sanctuary about a mile from downtown Decatur. Piedmont’s native gardens feature irises, camellias and pollinators with occasional spots of wild mushrooms (not for foraging). Note: Dogs are best left at home.
Address: 932 Scott Boulevard, Decatur, Georgia, 30030
Contact: 404-373-2222 or www.woodlandsgarden.org
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.
Cost: Free. Parking is limited, so Woodlands encourages carpooling or bicycling.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Gainesville
Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Gainesville has just as much to offer as its big brother in downtown Atlanta. Tai chi, storybook time and birdwatching classes are all on the agenda this month. On the first Saturday of the month until October, attend cocktail parties in the garden until 8 p.m. Ada Mae Pass Ivester Kindergarten is open to little explorers who love fairies, dragons and magic.
Address: 1911 Sweetbay Drive, Gainesville, Georgia 30501
Contact: 404-888-4760 or www.atlantabg.org/gainesville-garden
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm from March 1 to October 31. Consult the website the rest of the year.
Cost: Timed tickets are required for non-members. Children under 3 are free; children 3-12 are $12.95 and adults $14.95. On-site parking is free.
Barnsley Gardens is best known as part of Adairsville Resort and Spa, but the grounds are spectacular. Wander in and around Woodlands, the ruins of Barnsley Gardens mansion, and feel the grandeur of Godfrey Barnsley’s creation. Built for Barnsley’s wife, Julia, what remains of the Italian-style villa is romantic and peaceful, blanketed in wild greenery.
Address: 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville, Georgia 30103
Contact: 770-773-7480 or www.barnsleyresort.com
Hours: Every day from sunrise to sunset, except reservation for an event.
Boules Court Botanical Garden
Ball Court Botanical Garden Roslyn Carter Butterfly Trail is a popular part of this property. Shaped like a swallowtail butterfly, the trail is home to pollinating plants like butterfly bush, milkweed, sedum, yarrow, and more. Along the way, posters and panels inform about the butterflies.
Address: 215 Valley Street, Ball Ground, GA 30107
Contact: www.ballgroundgardenclub.com/ball-ground-botanical-garden free
Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.
The Freedom Braille Trail
The Freedom Braille Trail is located in Dellinger Park. The Braille course is designed for a range of abilities. Visually impaired and physically handicapped visitors should feel welcome on this hard-surface path, lined with navigation ropes and braille displays.
Address: 100 Pine Grove Road, Cartersville, Georgia 30120
Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Gibbs Gardens at Ball Ground may be best known for its springtime explosion of daffodils and tulips, but this property has so much more to offer. Rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, hydrangeas, and daylilies capture visitors in spring and summer, but the fall reminder of azaleas is equally stunning.
Address: 1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground, GA 30107
Contact: 770-893-1880 or www.gibbsgardens.com
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free for children under 3 years old, children from 3 to 17 years old are $10, seniors are $18 and adults from 18 to 64 are $20.
Fred Hamilton’s Rhododendron Gardens
Fred Hamilton’s Rhododendron Gardens claims to be the largest collection of native rhododendrons and azaleas in the southeast. Discover dogwoods, rare forest perennials, trillium, ferns and over 400 varieties of rhododendrons. The property has 30 acres of woodland including short hikes.
Address: 1311 Music Hall Road, Hiawassee, GA 30546
Contact: 706-896-4191 or www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com/localevents/hamilton
Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to dusk.
paradise garden is a tribute to one of Georgia’s best-known self-taught folk artists, Howard Finster. Today his work can be found in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Library of Congress, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and beyond. In a surprising and original landscape, Paradise Garden offers year-round arts education, programs, tours and camps. This is a bucket list destination in Georgia.
Address: 200 N. Lewis Street, Summerville, GA 30747
Contact: 706-808-0800 or www.howardfinster.com
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Children under 12 are free, over 12s and students are $12, seniors are $10 and adults are $15.
Rock City Gardens
Rock City Gardens is accessible all year round by the Enchanted Trail forest path and the magical caverns of Fairyland. Sure, it’s touristy, but a waterfall, spectacular views, and 400 different species of plants, trees, and shrubs make up for that. Visitors love to witness the fall colors through the mountain view.
Address: 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
Hours: Every day from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are timed and cost between $15 and $28 depending on the day. Parking is free.
The state Georgia Botanical Garden
The state Georgia Botanical Garden is on the University of Georgia campus. Guided tours allow visitors to see everything: the conservatory, the heritage gardens and the international gardens. An edible garden, children’s garden, flower gardens, and walking trails along the Middle Oconee River are popular.
Address: 2450 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30602
Contact: 706-542-1244 or www.botgarden.uga.edu
Hours: Check the website.
Cost: Free for individuals, group visits can be organized for a small fee. Donations are welcome.
Thompson mill forest
Thompson Mills Forest330 acres of land designated to provide educational and research opportunities to the public, was deeded to the University of Georgia in 1980. Visit the granite outcrop and self-guided trails for a peaceful walk.
Address: 8755 Highway 53, Braselton, Georgia 30517
Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.