My Affair with Gardens: Georgia Mountain Ethnobotanic Gardens and Woodland Medicine Trail

Description

Gardens are the one universal and infinite language of man and nature. The pure joy that walking through a garden brings is hard to put into words. Each garden has its own music and palette.

As a child in the garden of my grandparents, both native and indigenous gardeners, I marveled at the intricate beauty that exploded every spring in Lower Michigan. So small I could barely see the flowers that towered over me until Grandfather lifted me up onto his shoulders. The divine scent planted itself into my psyche. When I was old enough to give Santa a request at Christmas I asked for small garden tools which the following Spring enabled me to start my own little space of wonder. I remember Grandmother describing a large field of dandelions as a sea of soldiers. We picked the greens and made a wonderful soup. We had no fear of rolling in the yellow until we too turned yellow.

Grandfather was half Native American. He taught me the value of plants to man’s existence. How to live in harmony with nature on a spiritual level. He told me, “Plant the seeds where they want to be not where you want them to be”. It took me years to figure out what he was talking about.

My goal growing up was to create a wonderful ecosystem in the middle of the city of Detroit. I didn’t want to just visit nature. I wanted to help create it where automobiles and cement ruled. Using the vision my grandparents gave me, I had gardens wherever I lived. Career choices allowed me to travel to many different cities where I always visited whatever gardens they offered to the public. From Montreal, Canada to the tropics, I continued to invest in my emotional connection to all things alive and green.

Now in the twilight of my journey I recently moved to the North Georgia Mountains. For all my travels and experiences it was the trumpeting North Georgia mountains that captured my heart. Unexpectedly, while driving to Vogel State Park my husband and I noticed the University of Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. Within this vast arena the Georgia Mountain Ethnobotanic Gardens and Woodland Medicine Trail exist. We feel so lucky to have such a splendid surprise only three miles up the road from our new home. We go there regularly now to see what new ventures the gardens and their caretakers have forged. Watching each season usher in a new interest in what my grandfather had taught me so long ago. He might not have had a name for it but he understood the importance of biodiversity.

-Story written by Gail H.
 
 

Photos Show

North Georgia Mountains

North Georgia Mountains

As you are driving into the large expanse of four hundred acres of land back dropped with the richly painted mountain skies of the North Georgia Mountains you have to take a deep breath to take in the beauty. Rounding the curved entry road further down a valley is a color fusion of hundreds of crape myrtle trees. Greenhouses and smaller gardens dot the road into the ecosystem. Stone and farm houses support small thriving herb gardens. In bloom the colors of the herb gardens spill around the antique structures. [View Additional File Details]

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A stone community cannery, which now serves as an interpretive center staffed with local tour guide volunteers welcomes those who want to learn about how the Ethnobotanical Gardens works as a regional support system for indigenous and native plants and wildlife. [View Additional File Details]

The gardens

The gardens

The gardens pull you across a wooden tin roofed bridge with the colors kaleidoscoping over the stream reminding you of a Monet painting. You might stop to marvel at the lacy Bald Cypress tree on the other side of the bridge. Each branch of the tree is synchronized weaving an amazing canopy.
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A peaceful respite

A peaceful respite

The needles are the shape of ferns, which makes you wonder what the blankets of ferns on the bed of the forest have in common with this tree. Along the way you might want to sit a spell on the swing letting nature’s pollinators the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds entertain you as you take in the scents of the flowers that nourish them. [View Additional File Details]

Every step captures all your senses. No other place on earth can marry all your senses into such a pleasurable and rewarding pursuit like a garden tended with love in harmony with nature.

Every step captures all your senses. No other place on earth can marry all your senses into such a pleasurable and rewarding pursuit like a garden tended with love in harmony with nature.

Every time I leave the gardens I know there’s a mountain top that my grandparent’s spirits reside on. I am pretty sure it’s right here in Blairsville, Georgia.

Every time I leave the gardens I know there’s a mountain top that my grandparent’s spirits reside on. I am pretty sure it’s right here in Blairsville, Georgia.

A lifelong love of gardens: one of Gail's beautiful gardens at a former home.

A lifelong love of gardens: one of Gail's beautiful gardens at a former home.

The authors Gail's current view of nature from home she's made in the Northern Georgia Mountains.

The authors Gail's current view of nature from home she's made in the Northern Georgia Mountains.

Garden Website

www.gmrec.uga.edu

Cite this Page

GailH, “My Affair with Gardens: Georgia Mountain Ethnobotanic Gardens and Woodland Medicine Trail,” Community of Gardens, accessed August 20, 2017, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12213.​
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