Regular readers will recall that in October, I attended a plen-air landscape painting class at the John C. Campbell Folk Art School. There were many interesting things on the way to and from the Folk School, as we drove from Atlanta. The famous “Dragon’s Tail” road of hairpin turns through the mountains is a popular route. “Babyland,” the home of the Cabbage Patch dolls was on the way, but not a stop we made. My very, very favorite stop was the Gainesville Botanical Garden. Having been to its larger sister garden, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, many times I had high expectations and I certainly was not disappointed. In fact, I like Gainesville much better, for its compactness, its beauty, and its creativity. I think you will agree that the plantings were spectacular.
I loved, loved, loved the various frog topiaries that were so “alive” one almost expect them to hop! The frog topiaries were grown in the greenhouses until they were fully covered with growth, and then moved into the gardens, or as in this case, the pond! They were lurking here and there throughout the gardens. And just look at those beautiful panda topiaries!
We were lucky to be there on a perfect autumn day, and during their “Scarecrow” exhibit. Each scarecrow was crafted by a local organization, and set into a perfect garden spot. I especially liked the Cat Scarecrow, with all her little gourd kittens and her grand tail. This Bear Family was ready for vacation, and the white-dressed Zombie lady looked very elegant in this setting of flowing white asters. There were dozens of fascinating, well-crafted scarecrows throughout the gardens but these shown were my favorites. There were lots of things to keep children interested, like the creative use of pumpkins as caterpillars, colorful mushrooms, and even blue bats! The train garden has a switch so children can make it run, and this Ogre with a hidden tunnel was a BIG kids (small kids and really old kids!) crowd pleaser. And no matter where one looked, there was beauty. I can’t stress how tidy and well-though-out the plantings were, with contrasting textures, layers, and color. If time is not a factor, there are several beautiful trails through their woodlands to the Forest Pond, or along Holly Ridge, or the Sourwood Trail. Go in springtime for the luscious Dogwood Trail, or enjoy its nationally known collection of witch hazels. And if you’re lucky, there might be an evening concert in the gorgeous amphitheater with its stunning landscape. And the gift shop was great fun!
If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth a visit. For more info go to www.atlantabg.org and click on the Gainesville location.