Field Trip – Ryan Gainey’s Garden – June 4, 2013

Gwinnett Master Gardeners and guests visited the garden of internationally-known, madly passionate garden enthusiast Ryan Gainey.  Not only is Ryan Gainey a gardener, but also a poet, raconteur, philosopher, mentor, visionary, designer, and showman all in one.

Upon moving to Atlanta, he began to nurture his own piece of land, a two-acre garden in Decatur, Georgia which has been featured in every major gardening publication in the United States and abroad. Visiting this paradise is a highlight each year for the thousands who partake of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Gardens for Connoisseurs tour. His garden has been a featured stop for 20 years.

As with all of our gardens, this garden reflects the personality of the owner.  It is stimulating, thought-provoking, exuberant, creative, romantic, whimsical, embracing …. but in reality mere words are inadequate to describe this unusual garden.

After exploring the many garden rooms, through twists and turns and surprises in every corner, Ryan Gainey gave an overview of the development of the property and answered our many questions.  Following the tour, we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant to discuss what we had learned from this experience.

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Cox Arboretum and Gardens Field Trip – April 23, 2013

Cox Arboretum

The Cox Arboretum and Gardens is a private estate located in Canton, Georgia.  Numbering over 4,000 living specimens, the plantings display one of the largest private collections of temperate flora in the United States.  The property is also bounded by several large wetland habitats where many migratory and native fowl make their home.  It is situated on 13 acres in the middle of an old-growth southern deciduous hardwood forest, containing many large Oaks, Hickory, Poplar and Sweetgum—some of which are over 100 years old.

We were led on a tour of the gardens by owner and garden creator Tom Cox.  Tom served as a national president of the American Conifer Society and he now travels the world in search of conifers that might be adaptable to the Southeastern United States.  Along with Dr. John Ruter, he is in the process of co-authoring a first-ever book on conifers for the South.

The opportunity to experience a collection of  trees and conifers from around the world provided a wealth of knowledge.  We are now more aware of the diverse selection we have to choose from that can successfully be grown in our environment.

Field Trip to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain – April 2, 2013

Pocket at Pigeon Mountain

The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain in Walker County is considered to be among the finest areas for wildflowers in Georgia. It is part of the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area and is home to the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail. This area, part of the Cumberland Plateau, contains many species rare to our state:  Virginia bluebells, celandine poppy, bent trillium, Ohio buckeye, twin leaf, and a wonderful variety of other wildflowers.

The Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail boardwalk is designed to permit viewing many species of flowers up close with the least impact.  We were extremely fortunate to have Jay Clark, a local expert and author, as our guide.  His knowledge of the history of the area and native plants provided an outstanding opportunity to learn about this unique area.

As we entered the trail, we were immediately struck by the awesome beauty of a preserved and unique ecosystem.  The Virginia Bluebells were in full bloom and their abundance was overwhelming.  There were so many rare and unusual plants it was difficult to take it all in and we enjoyed a slow and easy walk along the stream. The trail lead up to the waterfalls for an unexpected view and another fantastic experience.

Our enthusiastic photographers captured amazing shots that will be difficult to beat in our 2013 Photo Contest. It was impossible to absorb all the intricate flora and it is difficult to put the beauty of this area into words.  One conclusion we all came to is that we will return!

Field Trip and Master Gardeners Day at Gibbs Gardens – March 27, 2013

Gwinnett Master Gardeners joined Master Gardeners throughout Georgia for a special “Master Gardeners Day” hosted by Gibbs Gardens and the Georgia Master Gardeners Association.

We enjoyed small group educational tours led by Master Gardeners who have detail experience and knowledge of the Gardens.  The gardens were in full daffodil bloom and the weather was delightful.

Jim Gibbs spoke on his 25 year vision, the gardens development and plans for future opportunities as we gathered under the event tent for lunch.  He answered questions and gave tips on how we can use his concepts to enhance gardens of any size.