Giving in Action
Annual Fund gifts help sustain engaging Garden experiences and the beautiful surroundings that visitors so treasure.
Highlighted below are a few recent examples of programs that are realized with Annual Fund gifts.
After School Program
An integral part of the Garden’s educational programs to underserved children, the After School Program welcomes excited third, fourth, and fifth graders every year from seven Title I schools to attend four days a week for four weeks.
Rooted in the Common Core and Georgia Performance Standards, the program activates classroom learning through hands-on activities and engaging experiences. Topics include the life cycle of plants, biomes and their characteristics, plant and animal adaptations, animal classification and the habitats of Georgia.
Melissa Carlberg, teacher, explains "the After School Program mission is to provide students, who would not normally have the chance, the opportunity to deepen their knowledge through real-world experiences, while empowering them to take responsibility and risks in their learning.” Students achieve this by developing writing, reading, speaking, critical thinking, problem solving, and scientific inquiry skills. To cultivate ownership in their learning, students explore, experiment, and collaborate with each other.
In 2012 and 2013, students showed on average a 9% improvement on post evaluation scores. Currently, approximately140 students are reached annually. Tracy McClendon, the Garden’s Vice President of Programs, hopes to expand the program through the additional support of donors.
Conifer Garden Renovation
Designated as an American Conifer Society Reference Garden, the Conifer Garden has undergone a transformation over the last two years. The horticulture team has removed overgrown, crowded, and undesirable specimens replanting the opened spaces with dwarf varieties of conifer and ground covers.
Showcasing dwarf and rare conifers, the Conifer Garden is designed to “educate the public about growing conifers, familiarize gardeners with new varieties of conifers, and demonstrate conifer use in the home landscape,” explains Senior Horticulturalist Kathryn Moomaw. New specimens include: six juniper, chamaecyparis, cryptomeria, and thuja cultivars, wild collected Podocarpus forrestii, Juniperus recurva, Cryptomeria japonica, and Platycladys orientalis. Some plantings came as far away as Quarry Hill Botanical Garden in California and Cedar Lodge Nursery in New Zealand.
Creating visual interest, ground covers were also integrated to demonstrate the wide variety of unusual ones available to homeowners. In 2013, thirteen different plant families were planted with some being evaluated to determine how well they grow in the Southeast. For instance, Gesneriads (traditionally considered tropical or indoor plants) are being evaluated for their cold hardiness.
Hardy Succulents Garden
The Hardy Succulents Garden is enhanced with new plantings and integrated with new specimens.
Alongside the Fuqua Conservatory where the Agave americana bloomed, it has been replanted with cacti and succulents. Displaying red berries in late fall and winter, Opuntia leptocaulis (Desert Christmas Cactus) has been relocated to this area, as well as the cacti Opuntia tunicata var. rosea and Opuntia rufida (Blind Prickly Pear) so that they may reach their full potential. Species not previously represented, such as Echinocactus texensis and Mammillaria elongatea, have also been planted.
The Hardy Succulents Garden features hardy plantings native primarily to the southwestern United States, northern Mexico, Africa and South America.
A popular wedding location, the Trustees Garden has been given a more contemporary aesthetic with new plantings.
To reflect the distinct architecture of the space, landscape designer Tres Fromme redesigned the perennial beds flanking the fountain to have a strong shape and clean pattern. Cone-shaped, 5’ tall, boxwood topiaries now anchor the two beds. Choosing a neutral color pallet, pink and white hydrangeas, along with white hibiscus, create a soft background for summer weddings and intimate gatherings.
Tucked behind the Fuqua Conservatory in the Conservation Garden, visitors can view a stream that represents a calcareous spring run, a habitat characterized by high mineral content from a source of flowing groundwater. The stream is constructed to highlight the fragile ecosystems of native wetlands and the Garden’s critical conservation work on these habitats.
Threatened by development, agriculture, silviculture, and invasive species, calcareous spring runs and fens are some of the rarest and most endangered of Georgia’s habitats, with plant species found nowhere else in the world. As part of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 5 Star Restoration Grant program, the conservation team works with partners to restore wetlands in Northwest Georgia through invasive species removal and land management. Thousands of rare plants have been propagated, such as Georgia Alder, Virginia Spiraea, and Tennessee Yellow-Eyed grass, for recovery and outplanting to restored habitats.
Look for these endangered plants along the stream and in the Conservation Garden, along with a variety of native orchid species including: Spiranthes vernalis, S. lacera v. gracilis, S. odorata, S. cernua, Platanthera clavellata, Platanthera integrilabia, Calopogon tuberosus, Pogonia ophioglossoides, and Habenaria repens.
Healthy Culinary Delights
Showcasing the farm-to-table concept of cultivating and consuming fresh, local and sustainably grown food, programs held in the Edible Garden Outdoor Kitchen have become a huge success. In 2012, over 10,000 visitors attended Garden Chef cooking demonstrations, where they discovered healthy and delicious seasonal recipes.
“Our talented Garden Chefs are charged with presenting visitors new ways of incorporating fresh, seasonal veggies and fruits into our diets in order to help us live healthier lifestyles”, says Tracy McClendon, Vice President of Programs at the Garden. Each weekend from May - October, Garden Chefs create mouthwatering recipes, including ingredients harvested from the Edible Garden such as figs, tomatoes, kale, okra, blackberries, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. Extending the boundaries of the Outdoor Kitchen, visitors have access to Garden Chef Recipes and the Plant to Plate blog.
The Fuqua Conservatory’s Desert House has a new display of plant specimens endemic (native) to Socotra. Sanskrit for “island of bliss,” Socotra is an archipelago off of the Horn of Africa, belonging to the Republic of Yemen. Designated a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, a third of Socotra’s unique flora is found nowhere else on earth. Some remarkable examples of Socotra flora successfully propagated by the Garden for display include: Dendrosicyos socotrana, Euphorbia arbuscula, Euphorbia abdelkuri, Cissus subaphylla, and Hibiscus scottii.
Endangered and extremely rare in cultivation, Dendrosicyos socotrana is a member of the cucumber family and one of the tallest trees on Socotra. The Garden’s specimen has a way to grow before it reaches an approx. 6 meters in height! Unlike its relative Cissus sicyoides, with roots hanging from the rafters of the tropical rotunda, the Cissus subaphylla is a low growing, shrub-like plant in the grape family. Euphorbia arbuscula and Euphorbia abdelkuri lack leaves and flowers and are known for their highly toxic, latex sap.
Native to Madagascar and southern Africa, larger specimens of Pachypodiums and Adeniums are also on display. Intimidating with tall, upright spiny trunks ranging from dark gray to silver, Pachypodiums exhibit alluring flowers in late winter and early spring. Often called “desert roses,” Adeniums have pink flowers, a brilliant contrast against the desert’s backdrop of thorns and spines.
Tropical Crop Garden
The Fuqua Conservatory has a new Tropical Crop Garden. Discover a model garden showcasing a wide range of tropical fruits, root crops, spices and medicinal plants. Paul Blackmore, Manager of the Garden Conservatory, explains its purpose is to "give visitors a sense of what constitutes a mixed garden farm found in villages throughout Africa and Southeast Asia."
A common form of agriculture in tropical countries, a mixed garden is planted around a house or in small plots around a village. Farmers plant crops designed to provide food, medicine and other products year-round for their families and to sell at village markets.
The Tropical Crop Garden includes the root vegetables cocyam and cassava (the leaves are used to make African stew); the spices vanilla, cardamom, ginger and grains of paradise (a seed imparting a peppery flavor to foods); cocoa; kaffir lime; and citrus medica, or citron (often candied and historically used for medicinal purposes).
Children in the Garden
Annual Fund gifts allow the Garden to offer events and classes for children that range from outdoor garden adventures to cooking lessons in the Edible Garden.
With the Garden as their classroom, excited kindergartners are introduced to ways in which plants and animals differ during Kinder in the Garden. In partnership with the City of Atlanta's Cultural Experience Project, more than 3,000 kindergartners from Atlanta Public Schools are welcomed to the Garden. During their visit, children explore diverse living collections, observe giant leaves in the Tropical Rotunda and small leaves in the Desert House, smell fragrant orchids and view colorful Poison Dart Frogs. The Garden lessons meet Georgia Performance Standards.
In addition, more than 800 students from Title 1 schools receive complimentary Garden admission. During their field trip, students engage with the wonders of nature and learn life science concepts by exploring the diversity of plants and habitats around the Garden.
For little ones, the Butterfly Maze in the Children's Garden has been recently updated with new plantings, such as Loropetalim 'Ever Red', a gorgeous cultivar with brilliant red blooms. In the Gnome Garden, various shade loving plants peak children's curiosity and imagination.
Frogs on Display
The Fuqua Conservatory lobby now houses six amphibian exhibits that continually engage visitors of all ages. The naturalistic displays showcase rare and endangered frogs from Central and South America. Visitors can marvel at frogs such as semi-transparent Glass Frogs, Splendid Leaf Frogs, and Amazonian Fringed Leaf Frogs. The conservation team tends to the rare and endangered amphibians during weekly Frog Freedings.
With more than one-third of the world's amphibian species threatened or endangered, the Garden's Amphibian Conservation team is deeply involved in conservation efforts. For example, Gopher Frog tadpoles are now raised in the Fuqua Orchid Center in an effort to renew their declining population. They are eventually released onto a Nature Conservancy Preserve.