Winter is the perfect time to dream about gardens. Our mailboxes are full of seed catalogs bursting with great varieties of seeds and plants to try. Public gardens are a great way to get out and see unfamiliar varieties of plants actually growing in the garden. Many times we can learn new, easier, or more cost effective ways of growing our favorites. There is always something to take away from garden displays. Most of us don't have the money to lay down for the hardscaping and big water features seen in many public gardens. However, we can usually incorporate a few favorite elements into our home gardens and put our individual, unique twist on them. (One day I will have some version of the succulent wall seen below!)
Callaway Gardens located in Pine Mountain Georgia has become a little commercialized but there are a few horticultural treasures to discover. Callaway Gardens has a spectacular late season vegetable garden. This is vegetable gardening with ornamental value at it's best. I lived in Athens, Georgia for over 20 years but did not make a trip to this garden until moving to Arkansas. I spent the day there with my sister and her family and was completely impressed. The vegetable garden was planted with amazing varieties of veggies but also late season ornamentals which are great for bringing pollinators into the garden. The long border in the vegetable garden boasted two of my favorite late season drama queens, Mexican
Sage (bee magnet) and brugmansia.
The Sibley conservatory was another highlight of this garden. The interior was planted with many tender plants and succulents. You can stroll through the beds and see an amazing selection of succulents and tropicals. The thing I like best about this design is
the use of space. The water began flowing inside the conservatory to an outside basin. The conservatory doors can be opened so the lines between inside and out are blurred. Growing up in South Florida I am all about being able to enjoy the outdoors from inside. We lived on our screened in patio!
The succulent wall is another amazing feature. Instead of the traditional method of stacking stones horizontally they were set on a diagonal. Succulents are grown for the architecture and form they bring to beds and containers. The stones in this feature add yet another layer of structure to the planting almost acting like exclamation points to the plants.
Callaway Gardens is best known for the Day Butterfly House. (It is impressive although Sibley is more my style.) I happened to visit during Blue Morpho Butterfly days and the house was alive with them. There is a great mix of tropical plants and blooming orchids to see in this house as well. Like many public gardens this garden finds ways to draw the public (and much needed funds) in on a year round basis. Horticultural displays are plenty but you do have to really look at your garden map and locate what you want to see. Definitely worth a visit.
Up next will be my favorite South Florida garden- Fairchild Tropical Gardens.