During a recent trip to Savannah I managed to convince Mike that we needed to visit the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm. I won’t lie, part of the intrigue for me was the “Historic Bamboo Farm” part of this title (for more on my love for bamboo you can read here and here).
To visit the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden from Savannah takes about 30 minutes by car. We visited in late November, well after most of the annuals had peaked but just late enough that the camellias were in full bloom. Unsure of what we would discover, I did some researching on their website and found the following about the history of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens: “The Bamboo Farm was deeded to the University of Georgia in 1983 for use as an education and research center. Numerous ornamental plant and pest-management research occurred on site. By the mid-1990s, the University formed an advisory committee and began an aggressive capital campaign for improvements. Today, a Master Plan guides current development of a regional botanical garden, along with support from the 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, Friends of the Coastal Gardens. In 2012, the Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens became the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. The Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens remains under the auspices of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I will share a few of the highlights…
I enjoyed seeing the Crapemyrtle Allee displaying some nice specimens and all still with their natural vase shape. The colors and exfoliating bark were really standing out on this cold morning.
I know that it is odd to have one of my key takeaways be the containers, but it is what it is. There are absolutely beautiful ceramic containers throughout all of the Gardens that make up the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden. This olive tree in the Mediterranean Garden is just one example. These beautiful ceramic containers set off the different spaces and all are very well done. This Mediterranean Garden was one of our favorite places, probably due to the fact that most of these plants were unaffected by the recent frost and were still looking good. The butter yellow buildings really complemented the silver and blue plants well.
The Camellia Garden was just reaching its peak bloom during our visit. There were several photographers there making sure these beautiful winter flowers are well documented. This is a garden I would love to have spent more time in, examining each of the different varieties.
It is clear that these gardens are young, but well on their way to being a really great botanical garden. Many of the plantings are new, but the vision is certainly there and will be rewarded in a few years. A perfect example of this is the young Bamboo Maze. Strongly connected to the history of the gardens, the Bamboo Maze was planted in 2014 and is going to be magnificent in a few years. For now it is more of an open area, and although Mike saw mostly weeds, I can see the backbone of a really great garden that children and families especially are going to love.
Nearby the Tea Garden is planted with small Camellia sinensis plants, the true tea camellia. It too is young, but won’t it be great in a few years when they can host a tea party in the middle of all of these tea camellias? Or even harvest their own tea?! I would love to be a part of that!
Other highlights included poking around the historic glass house and discovering a warm little oasis filled with all kinds of different orchids and tropical plants. It definitely felt like we were going into an area that is supposed to be off limits, but it was on the map so in we went! I wish there were more labels, but it didn’t deter us from enjoying this collection.
Our final area to explore was the Water Garden near the Great Lawn and the rear of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. From here we could look out over several large ponds and see the Visitor’s Center across the lawn. I was especially drawn to the Weeping Baldcypress, Taxodium distichum ‘Fallingwater’, scattered throughout.
It will be interesting to see how these young gardens develop and grow in the coming years. The proximity to I-95 means it won’t be far off the beaten path for us to stop by again and explore these growing displays and collections.