Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2013)|
Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens (51 acres) is a historic USDA plant introduction station that's become a regional botanical garden located at 2 Canebrake Road, Savannah, Georgia. Locals began calling the historic site "The Bamboo Farm" in the 1940s, and it's a nickname some local Savannahians still use today. The gardens are open daily, except holidays, without charge.
The garden's collection began in the late 1880s when property owner Mrs. H. B. Miller planted three giant Japanese timber bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides) plants. By 1915 an impressive bamboo grove developed, which drew the attention of noted botanist and plant explorer David Fairchild. In 1919 Barbour Lathrop, a friend of Fairchild, purchased the site from Mrs. Miller for $5,000 and leased it to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for $1. Noted plant explorers Frank Meyer, David Bisset and Alfonso McClure were vital players in the development of the facility as a plant introduction station throughout the mid-20th century. In 1979 the USDA closed the site. It was deeded to the University of Georgia in 1983 and remains part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Today, Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden's collections contain around 60 bamboo taxa, said to be the largest American bamboo collection open to the public east of California. Most specimens (genera Phyllostachys and Bambusa) were planted in the 1920s and '30s. It also displays 40 cold-hardy palm species, including numerous cultivars of dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor). With at least 36 different species, it also is home to one of the largest collections of camellia species outside of China, in the Judge Arthur Solomon Camellia Trail. Impressive specimen trees also cast shade across the property, including China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Japanese evergreen oak (Castanopsis delavayi), lord's holly (Ilex rotunda), Oliver maple (Acer oliverianum), Chinese pistachio (Pistacia chinensis) and live oak (Quercus virginiana).
There are also beds showcasing landscape roses, Georgia native plants, daylilies, bearded iris and seasonal annuals. A 50,000-gallon water garden was completed on the shores of one of the site's lakes in late fall 2012. In mid-2013, a Mediterranean-style garden was completed in the area by the Bridal Cottage and Conference Center, historically the original entrance to the property when it was a USDA plant introduction station. A shade garden, formal garden, children's garden, bamboo maze (the largest in the Western Hemisphere), and replica of an early 18th-century Georgia Colonial Trustees Garden are under way. An improved main entrance off of Canebrake Road is anticipated in 2014, as is the completion of the new Andrews Visitor and Education Center building.
The garden sells a number of containerized bamboo and garden plants and has various special events and gardening classes throughout the year. Among the special events are: Wild Game Supper (February), The Garden Party (April/May), Spring Plant Sale (April), Fall Garden Festival (September) and December Nights & Holiday Lights (November/December, which features 250,000 lights in the evenings). There are also pick-your-own fields including strawberries (late-March to early May), blackberries (mid-May to early July), and blueberries (mid-June to late July). Precise fruit harvest times vary annually depending on the weather.
The Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm is part of the University of Georgia's Extension Service. It also benefits from support from Chatham County government and the non-profit Friends of the Coastal Gardens organization.