Friday, August 15, 2014

Blustems and Bluejeans: Native Plant Sale

A native plant sale will be held October 1-4 and 8-11 at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia's Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies.  The sale will be open 4-6 pm Wednesday - Friday and 9 am - noon Saturday both weeks.  All sales benefit the Garden's Conservation programs.

This special sale will feature nearly 200 species of Georgia native plants grown from Georgia seeds and raised at the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies.   Attendees will also have the unique opportunity to stock up on plants, consult with experts on site and get a look behind the scenes in the Center for Native Plants greenhouses.

The native plants for sale support wildlife in the area. “Purchasing plants that were originally sourced from wild Georgia populations supports the natural rhythms and cycles of Georgia flowering plants and their pollinators,” explains Jennifer Ceska, Conservation Coordinator at the Botanical Garden.  “You don’t want a Monarch butterfly showing up for the party when the Milkweed are not in flower!”

There will be several species of well-known wildflowers including Bee Balm, Sunflowers, Beardtongues, Georgia Aster, and Milkweeds.  All of these are drought tolerant and beautiful. This sale will also be an opportunity to discover dozens of other native wildflowers.

Native trees, shrubs and grasses will also be for sale, which Ceska explains are “valuable for providing nesting materials, brooding sites, and food sources adult and baby birds.”

A complete plant list can be found at during the weeks of the sale.  There will also be directional signs in the Garden to guide you to the Center.

Stay in touch on the Conservation Facebook page:

Monday, August 4, 2014

What is the Olmsted Legacy?

This year the State Botanical Garden is working with the Southern Garden History Society to present two complementary events at the Garden: The Johnstone Lecture and the Southern Garden Heritage Conference. The shared theme is “The Olmsted Legacy”.  But what is the Olmsted legacy?

The Olmsted Legacy is the influence of one family that was instrumental in crafting the profession of landscape architecture and championing conservation from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries. Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., born in 1822, had many professions, including farmer, sailor, and writer of anti-slavery dispatches from the South to the New York Times. In 1857 he became the superintendent of New York's Central Park. At that time urban green spaces were segments of land reserved to handle runoff in developed areas, hold reservoirs of drinking water for growing populations, or undesirable for development. It was also a time of growing concern for the mental and physical health of a nation quickly becoming industrialized. After visiting public grounds in Europe, it seemed obvious to Olmsted that there were great psychological and societal benefits to nature and parks.

Young architect Calvert Vaux asked Olmsted to join forces with him to enter the Central Park Design competition. Among 33 entries, their entry won. Olmsted and Vaux took on the job of overseeing the construction of the first landscaped public park in the United States and stayed business partners for over a decade. Olmsted and Vaux designed much more than plantings; they created streams, bridges, and winding paths within a natural, picturesque landscape. Although the detail was exquisite, the designs suited the site, feeling comfortable and natural. It took work and creativity to create a feeling of rustic simplicity.

Olmsted was a combination of idealist and problem solver and held strong convictions, leaving and returning to New York City positions many times. During the Civil War he ran the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a precursor to the Red Cross. Later, he moved to California, which inspired him to be involved in the conservation movement and the creation of the National Park System before returning to the City of New York as their landscape architect.

Olmsted married Mary, his brother's widow, shortly after winning the Central Park competition and adopted her children, including his seven-year-old nephew John Charles Olmsted. The new family moved into a house in the middle of Central Park. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was born to the couple in 1870. The two half-brothers had an 18 year difference in age, but both joined Olmsted, bringing the Olmsted Legacy well into the next century.

John Charles Olmsted became a full partner in the Olmsted firm in 1884. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. graduated Harvard ten years later, then spent 13 months on site at Biltmore, an estate Frederick Law Olmsted was designing for George Vanderbilt in North Carolina. In 1895 he joined his father’s firm. Although Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. is considered 'the Father of Landscape Architecture', his sons were instrumental in creating the profession as founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. helped establish Harvard’s landscape architecture program. When the father retired in 1898, the two half-brothers created Olmsted Brothers. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. took over the firm after John Charles' death in 1920, and then retired in 1949, leaving his partners to carry on as Olmsted Associates.

From the Central Park Competition in 1858 well into the next century, the Olmsted legacy materialized in projects throughout the country. In 1980 the National Park Service took over Fairsted, Olmsted’s home and the first landscape architecture office in America. With the buildings were 150,000 drawings, photos, and documents for 5,000 design projects in 45 states. Olmsted projects included public parks such as Boston’s Emerald Necklace and Central Park, created to make nature and beauty available to everyone. Estates, public buildings and college campuses such as Biltmore, The U.S. Capitol, and Duke University, were functional landscapes that respected the site and magnificent architecture. Olmsted projects also included community planning, such as Palos Verdes, CA and Druid Hills in Atlanta, which increased in value and beauty over many decades, as well as the utopian World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Kirk Brown as Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
The Johnstone Lecture, a free annual event at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens, honors the Garden's first director, Francis E. Johnstone, Jr. This year, on Thursday November 13, Kirk Brown will portray Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.  A reception following the 7 pm lecture gives attendees the opportunity to chat with Olmsted himself, a flawed genius who influenced this country to create national parks and city park systems, defined the profession of landscape architecture, and championed a design style that works with a site to enhance its natural features. He left us exquisite landscapes enjoyed by many and written windows into the 19th century. Although the event is free, please make reservations online at. at, 706-542-9353 or

The following day, Friday, November 14, is the all-day Southern Garden Heritage Conference:  Olmsted’s Legacy in the South at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.  Presentations by Lucy Lawliss of the National Park Service, Bill Alexander of The Biltmore Estate, Spencer Tunnell of Tunnell and Tunnell in Atlanta, Kirk Brown, Andrew Kohr and others will speak of the Olmsted Legacy in the Southeast. Register for this $115 event at or 706-542-6156. This conference is sponsored by The State Botanical Garden of Georgia and University of Georgia College of Environment and Design in cooperation with The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc., Friends of The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center, and the Southern Garden History Society.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Statewide Art Competition 2014

The State Botanical Garden is conducting a statewide art competition sponsored by the J.A. and H.G. Woodruff, Jr. Charitable Trust to recognize student talent in Georgia and create items for the State Botanical Garden’s Gift Shop.  The winning artist will receive $1,000. Additional awards of $500, $250, and certificates of merit are also available. Artwork awarded cash prizes will become the property of the State Botanical Garden and used to create signature items only sold in the Garden’s Gift Shop. The competition is open to Georgia students 9th grade and above.  The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 5 p.m.

Artwork must be two-dimensional and no larger than 24” x 36.”  Entrants should keep in mind that the goal is to create items for The State Botanical Garden gift shop, such as totes, stationery, T-shirts, journals, scarves and more. Whether the art is appropriate for this use is considered in the judging. All two-dimensional media, including pencil, pen and ink, paint, photography, collage, and computer enhanced graphics, are permitted. One color designs are welcome and needed to create affordable gift shop products. The artwork does not need to be framed, but should be signed.

Winning entrants in previous competitions have not only included the expected art, graphic design, scientific illustration and photography college majors, but high school and home schooled students and college students in studies not related to art or horticulture.

For more information or to receive the complete guidelines and entry form, call Connie at 706-542-6014.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

GrowIt! App Launch Event

GrowIt! Launch Event
Help create the newest plant app!
Thursday, July 17        6:00 – 7:30 pm
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia
GrowIt! is, a mobile app that is also social. It helps you find plants and ideas that work well in your area by connecting you to photos and comments of gardeners in the same area. It will be available in the App Store in July, but before it can be marketed on a large scale, folks around the country need to be entering data.
GrowIt! is an initiative of Ball Horticultural Company, but includes all plants, not just one brand. The goal is to engage the next generation of gardeners (Millennials mostly, ages 20-38).  This free mobile app is the first of its kind creating a social platform for users to promote plants they love and help others steer clear of plants that just don’t perform.  The app uses geo-locating technology in the phone to ensure that the users only see local information.  This will help ensure the next generation gardener knows what they should and should not buy so that their first gardening experience is a success.
To make this a successful tool for the next generation content needs to be built within the app.  An important aspect of GrowIt! is that it runs entirely on user submission with none of the digitally enhanced images that can come from big brands.  So….we need REAL images from REAL gardeners supporting a real social network.  So GrowIt! Is hosting a gathering at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia Visitor Center (2450 South Milledge Avenue, Athens), where garden enthusiasts from the community download the app, walk around the gardens, take photos, and rate plants. 
Your comments and photos will help guide new gardeners on the best plants and the ones to avoid. Check it out at or
Contact Connie for more information at 706-542-6014 or

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sunflower Concert Series at the Garden

It's time for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia's 2014 Sunflower Music Series, with the first concert this Tuesday!
The Sunflower Concert Series at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia showcases an eclectic mix of talented, awarded artists in an outdoor garden setting.
All concerts are on Tuesday evenings, 7:00-9:00 pm, in the terraced Flower Garden. This summer's schedule:

Sunflower Concert Series at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Outdoor summer concerts in the Flower Garden - one of the most beautiful and relaxing settings possible. Bring a picnic basket, spread a blanket, kick off your shoes and enjoy a summer evening outdoors.
7:00-9:00 p.m., $15 ($10 for members of Friends of the Garden)
Buy tickets here.
Concert moves indoors in wet weather.
Tuesday, June 10                   Saint Francis, with Rachel O'Neal
Think Southern Rock or artsy soul, as played by folks who have strong ties to nature and our community ( Bridge Radio calls Saint Francis "Inspired songwriting, masterful presentation, and a musical vibe we haven't felt in some time…" Rachel O'Neal will not only warm-up, but join the band in a few songs, as she has on a recent album. Saint Francis has over 14,000 followers on Facebook – come hear why. Click here to watch a video of one of their songs.

Tuesday, July 8                      Randall Bramblett with Dodd Ferrelle
Randall Bramblett ( returns to the State Botanical Garden for an intimate acoustic concert. The Intelligencer wrote about his album released last year: "Elements of pop, soul, blues, and the sounds of the church combine with Randall's often wistful, beautifully conceived lyrics..."

Tuesday, August 26               Grogus
Grogus will play Latin jazz, traditional Cuban and Caribbean styles and funk versions of jazz standards. They just make you feel good, listening to the upbeat lyrics and tempo or kicking off your shoes and dancing in the super-soft grass in front of the stage.
Tuesday, September 30         Klezmer Local 42, with Mary Sigalas opening
Klezmer Local 42 will perform toe-tapping Eastern European style dance tunes packed with emotion.

(Please click on image to see the larger version.)