State Botanical Garden to transform into holiday wonderland of lights in December

Beginning Dec. 1, the University of Georgia will host its first Winter WonderLights show with a Garden of Delights, Candy Cane Lane and Cone Tree Plaza, among other magical features, along a half mile trail at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, in Athens.

Lighted displays will delight children and adults every evening through Jan. 9, 2022. The Alice Hand Callaway Visitor’s Center will be transformed into a holiday market, where guests can shop for gifts and souvenirs. Refreshments such as cookies, s’mores, bottled water, hot chocolate and coffee will be available throughout the light show.

“Winter WonderLights will be a way for us to engage with people from across the state and beyond,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, State Botanical Garden director. “Our focus is to connect people to places and nature, and we are committed to being a leader in botanical education, horticulture, research and conservation. This new family friendly outdoor event gives us a way to show off our world-class botanical garden and generate support for our impactful programs. In many ways it also celebrates the hard work of our talented staff and students who care for this beautiful facility.”

The half-mile trail will take between 45-60 minutes to complete and is fully ADA accessible. Tickets are $15 per person, free for children under three. Members of Friends of the Garden will receive a 10 percent discount, as will groups of 20 or more people. Tickets, for designated dates and times to visit the show, will be available for purchase at the State Botanical Garden website this month September.

The event is presented by the University of Georgia. Sponsors include Friends of the State Botanical Garden, Trumps Catering, Synovus, Condor Chocolates, Barron’s Rental Center, Westminster Christian Academy and members of the community.

The botanical garden is located approximately 70 miles east of Atlanta, at 2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, Georgia. Free off-site parking and shuttle services will be provided in two UGA-owned and controlled lots off of South Milledge Avenue.


About The State Botanical Garden of Georgia:

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, is one of the state’s most treasured resources. With 313 acres of natural areas and cultivated gardens, the State Botanical Garden offers unique experiences for nature lovers. The garden offers eight specialty gardens, including the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, and over five miles of trails within an Audubon designated important birding area. Throughout the year, the garden hosts educational programming including camps, classes, workshops, concerts and festivals for visitors of all ages. Facilities across the garden feature art exhibits and annual lectures, including the Porcelain and Decorative Arts museum at the Center for Art and Nature.

The garden is also headquarters for the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a network of more than 50 institutions, agencies and organizations committed to ecological land management, native plant conservation, and protection of rare and endangered plants.

30th Annual Insect-ival!

One of the garden’s largest and most well-known festivals–Insectival–will be virtual this year. Participants will receive a virtual package full of information, activities, tours, crafts, puppet shows and the popular butterfly release from our favorite entomology experts. This virtual package is filled with fun for the entire family. Join garden staff and partners as we celebrate our beloved six-legged neighbors.

Insectival is sponsored by the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, UGA Lund Club, UGA Department of Entomology and Georgia Museum of Natural History.

The virtual package is $10. Website access begins Saturday Sept. 4 and ends Saturday Oct. 2.



Botanical Garden part of federal grant targeting preservation of imperiled plants

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is among four conservation organizations in Georgia to receive federal funding to save 14 imperiled plant species.

The nearly $780,000 grant, awarded to a partnership led by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will boost capacity to preserve the plants at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Chattahoochee Nature Center, while spreading that expertise and support to others in the nationally recognized Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance.

Plants often play second fiddle to efforts to recover rare animal species. But Georgia’s five-year project landed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Challenge grant on the strength of its plan to safeguard the 14 plant species and add Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance members who can do the work.

Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, said conservation horticulture is the cornerstone of the alliance, a network of more than 50 Georgia universities, botanical gardens, zoos, state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and private companies that are committed to ecological land management, native plant conservation, and protection of rare and endangered plants. Headquartered at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, members of the alliance work throughout the state to facilitate the recovery of rare, threatened, and endangered plants of Georgia and the southeast U.S.

“It takes careful observation of natural habitats, experimentation and horticultural expertise to safeguard imperiled plants,” Cruse-Sanders said. “Georgia is a leader in identifying critical habitat, imperiled species and the conservation action needed to preserve our precious natural heritage in the southeastern U.S., one of the most botanically diverse areas of our country.”

Pondberry plant

Pondberry (Photo: Alan Cressler)

Safeguarding refers to a complex practice that varies from protecting a species’ genetic stock to propagating the plants in a nursery and planting them back in the wild. Combined with protecting and restoring habitats, safeguarding is crucial to saving populations of at-risk plants.

DNR senior botanist Lisa Kruse says the impact of the grant will be “expansive.” And that’s not only for the targeted plants, which vary from swamp pink to hairy rattleweed and are all federally listed as endangered or threatened.

“The grant is going to fortify (the Georgia alliance’s) main partners and build the diversity and number of botanical gardens that can help preserve rare plants,” Kruse said.

Georgia has 443 plant taxa – or group of related plants – rated critically imperiled in the state; 83 of those are imperiled globally. Plants purify air and water, provide raw materials and stunning beauty, shape cultures and economies, prevent erosion and play vital roles in our heritage. Kruse noted, too, that conserving plants involves restoring natural habitats, which improves the outlook for animals “up and down the food chain.”

The 14 targeted plant species are: the Alabama leatherflower (Clematis socialis); black-spored quillwort (Isoetes melanospora); Canby’s dropwort (Oxypolis canbyi); Coosa (or Mohr’s) Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia mohrii); dwarf sumac (Rhus michauxii); fringed campion (Silene polypetala); hairy rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera); mat-forming quillwort (Isoetes tegetiformans); Morefield’s leatherflower (Clematis morefieldii); pondberry (Lindera melissifolia); smooth purple coneflower (Echinacea laevigata); swamp pink (Helonias bullata); Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis); and Virginia spiraea (Spirea virginiana).

Here is an example, using hairy rattleweed, of how the grant program will work:

Hairy rattleweed

Hairy rattleweed (Photo: Alan Cressler)

Hairy rattleweed is a pine flatwoods perennial that sports cobweb-like hairs and seed pods that rustle when dry; thus, the name. The species is federally listed as endangered and found worldwide only in southeast Georgia’s Wayne and Brantley counties. Too few of the plant’s 15 known populations are protected.

To guarantee hairy rattleweed survives, DNR ecologist Jacob Thompson and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia will collect seeds and leaf tissue from each population to capture the genetic details. The process involves strict protocols to ensure plant populations are not harmed.

The State Botanical Garden will grow plants from the seed. The homegrown plants and seeds will be shared with other Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance gardens. Over the five-year grant, the hope is to have all 15 populations represented at multiple gardens, some of which may be new alliance members.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden will use the leaf tissue to analyze the DNA and document each population’s genetic diversity – which can help determine hairy rattleweed’s available resources for adapting. The plan is to collect and analyze three populations a year, covering all 15 over the grant period.

Thompson and partners will take some of the plants grown in-house and plant them in appropriate habitat on protected lands. As part of the grant, partners are aiming to start two populations in the wild.

The goal, Kruse said, is “to not only have populations protected at the gardens, but to bring the plant back in the wild and have it thrive.”

“Hairy rattleweed is a really unique part of Georgia’s heritage, and it represents a very unique ecosystem,” she added. “This project will help us ensure that it stays in Georgia’s landscape.”

Learn more about Georgia’s imperiled plants and the State Botanical Garden’s  efforts to preserve and restore them at


Jenny Cruse-Sanders State Botanical Garden Director • 706-542-6131

Experience UGA goes virtual during the pandemic, with activities that K-8 students can use in the classroom and at home

The stage lights are shining and the curtain is in place, ready to be opened with the click of a computer mouse. Push play, and the story of Adelaide and the Fairy World comes to life on the computer screen.

Normally, the Children’s Theatre Troupe, a UGA student-run organization, would be performing on the Fine Arts Theatre stage in front of hundreds of third-grade students from throughout Clarke County. This year the stage is in the Experience UGA Google classroom.

The third-graders can watch the 32 minute play and view a Q&A with the cast and crew. There are theater warm-up games and a puppet-making video also included on the Google page.

“It’s always been so cool to see the third-graders’ excitement about theatre,” said Elise Harvin, the Children’s Theatre Troupe artistic director. “Shifting to virtual has been hard, but also really cool at the same time because it gave our organization the opportunity to grow as a whole. We had to think outside the box in order to bring our show and even theatre games to kids virtually.”

Three masked students perform in front of a camera

UGA stduents Kyle Huemme (left), Megan McGoldrick (middle), andLeslie Oroyemi (right) choreographed a dance as a fun way for kids to exercise for Experience UGA’s Public Health trip. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

Experience UGA is a partnership between the University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning and the Clarke County School District (CCSD) that brings every student in a Clarke County public school—about 12,000 total in grades pre-K through 12—to the UGA campus for a field trip once a year. The goal is for the CCSD students to experience learning on a college campus, explore college options and interact with UGA students.

The program is led by the Office of Service-Learning, which reports to the UGA vice presidents for Public Service and Outreach and Instruction, and is facilitated by students and faculty that make up Experience UGA planning teams.

With in-person field trips cancelled in 2020-21, teams had to find a way to provide a virtual experience that would be meaningful to students. They developed a Google classroom with Bitmoji characters (cartoon figures similar to emojis) of the UGA students to guide Clarke County teachers and students through the content. Links on the classroom page take viewers to activities created for each grade, pre-K through eighth. There were no virtual classroom developed for the high school grades.

A screenshot showing virtual BItmoji characters

Experience UGA utilized Bitmoji characters on their Google webpage to help interact with students virtually during the pandemic. (Submitted photo)

PreK students visit the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, where they learn about the senses. Students watch virtual puppet shows to learn about taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing.

Students in Mecca Romney’s pre-K class at Timothy Road Elementary School learned about the different sounds made by birds by watching a video of Caroline Parker, an education specialist at the State Botanical Garden, and Foreco, short for Forest Ecosystem, a puppet tree.

“We talked about the five senses and how we use them to explore, to ask questions to further understand, and to communicate,” Romney said. “We practiced listening.”

Seventh-graders also virtually visited the State Botanical Garden and student-run UGArden to learn about plants and animals.

“For the seventh-grade trip, we made several short follow-along at home videos,” said Audrey Stadler, the children’s program coordinator at the State Botanical Garden. “One activity was a plot study, focusing on observing how a plot of land changes over time.”

The plot study is an ecological succession, the order that organisms appear in an ecosystem over time. Each season, the students assess their plots and chart which insects or arthropods have appeared. They also chart the vegetation that has grown over time and take smudge samples of the soil to study how its color changed.

“So, ideally a class or a student at home could do that in their backyard or school yard,”  Stadler said.

The virtual classrooms for each grade include a guide to the pages, links to different activities and information about the UGA students who created the virtual experience. As of early May, the virtual Experience UGA web site had been viewed almost 5,000 times, which includes individual viewers as well as classrooms with 20 or more students.

UGA students Emma Powers (left), Hannah Fordham (middle), and Mecca Slocum (right) record a video to use for a virtual Experience UGA session. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

Seventh grade students also could watch biological engineering student Erika Bowen extract DNA from strawberries. Using two measuring cups, isopropyl alcohol, plastic zip bags, plastic wrap, salt, dishwashing detergent, a metal strainer, a coffee filter and 10 strawberries, Bowen walked viewers through the simple process of mixing and straining ingredients to separate the DNA from the rest of the strawberries. Watch here:


“This year we were excited about the opportunity to do things differently because it would allow us to showcase some types of engineering that we haven’t been able to before and even some small-scale experiments,” said Lauren Anglin, director of experiential learning and outreach for the College of Engineering.

Fifth-graders learn about art through UGA’s Georgia Museum of Art and music through the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. Each student in fifth grade got a bag of art supplies from the museum so that they could do the online projects at home.

They felt so special getting the art supplies,” said Caroline Allums, a fifth grade teacher at H.B. Stroud Elementary School. “They felt like rock stars.”

“We really loved the experience.”

Experience UGA student ambassadors, who typically act as tour guides and volunteers, this year were tapped to create additional content for Google classroom, including welcome videos for each trip and additional activities for each grade.

“We have about 25 ambassadors this year and they all have their own little Bitmoji characters that appear throughout the site, like in the introduction video,” said Josh Podvin, assistant director for community partnerships in the Office of Service-Learning. “They’re making additional fun content like a time lapse of a bean growing or countless other things that they come up with and bring to the table to complement the trip content.”

The advantage to the virtual experiences is that they can be accessed any time and as many times as needed. The content will still be helpful when in-person field trips resume.

While Romney says she prefers the in-person field trips, she says she will continue to use the online content.

“It would be great to to use them in tandem,” Romney said. “We could use it as a precursor to the campus trip.”

Explore the Experience UGA Google classroom at


Émilie Gille Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Shannon Brooks Office of Service-Learning Director • 706-542-0535

Preserving pollinators, preserving a neighborhood

The preserved remains of the old St. Mark’s A.M.E. Church rise up in the center of Atlanta’s English Avenue neighborhood like an ancient ruin.

Soon, they will be flanked by native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs, installed on Earth Day by volunteers, with guidance from the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia. The west side Atlanta church is at the heart of a neighborhood revitalization project that includes pollinator gardens and green space. The Rev. Winston Taylor, who owns the church remains, hopes to make it a cultural gathering spot for the community.

“Green spaces can function on many levels,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden, who participated in the Earth Day planting. “They create sanctuaries for people who need accessible outdoor areas that are safe and they can support pollinators and other wildlife in an urban environment.”

Lauren Muller, conservation outreach coordinator for the State Botanical Garden, led the planting effort, which included more than 20 species of native plants propagated at the University of Georgia. Residents of the English Avenue community, college students, USDA Forest Service partners and city of Atlanta employees were among the volunteers who turned out on that chilly morning to put the plants in the ground.

Mamie Moore and Lauren Muller in front of St. Mark's AME church

Mamie Moore (left) and Lauren Muller in front of St. Mark’s AME church. (Photo: Mack Brown / PSO)

Local resident and activist Mamie “Mother” Moore helped organize the pollinator planting, part of the Westside Land Use Framework Plan.

“This project is geared to spark the movement of pollinator planting in the neighborhood, and Lauren’s design qualifies us for the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail,” Moore said.

Designed by Muller, the garden includes plants that take into account the insect life cycle and include larval host plants for caterpillars as well as bee balm and mint to provide seeds for birds.

“This garden will be an opportunity for people to see these species that are integral to ecosystems in Georgia,” Muller said. “It’s inspirational to see that a relatively small garden like this can have an impact.”

The garden is part of the State Botanical Garden’s Connect to Protect Program. It is also within the Georgia Pollinator Partnership, the brainchild of Dennis Krusac, an endangered species specialist with the USDA Forest Service and his biologist wife Jackie Belwood. What began as a 10-by-10-foot garden at a school has grown to include hundreds of pollinator gardens statewide.

A child plants a pollinator plant in a garden

Nashoba Khalid, 5, plants a pollinator plant in the new garden. (Photo: Mack Brown / PSO)

Cruse-Sanders met Krusac and Shannon Lee from the Conservation Fund Atlanta office about a decade ago when they first worked in the English Avenue and Vine City communities to establish the neighborhoods first two greenspaces.

She recalls planting 140 milkweed plants with partners at the Greening Youth Foundation on a site not far from the old St Mark’s. Within a month, the plants, which are important to monarch butterflies, had attracted 65 monarch caterpillars.

“For the monarchs to find that spot in the middle of the city just goes to show that these efforts make a difference,” Cruse-Sanders said.

The new pollinator garden is a joint project between the State Botanical Garden of Georgia — a unit of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach — the city of Atlanta, the Westside Future Fund and the USDA Forest Service.

The front of the historic St. Mark’s AME church.

The front of the historic St. Mark’s AME church. (Photo: Mack Brown / PSO)

The Conservation Fund paid for the pollinators planted at the old church on Earth Day. Elizabeth Beak, a food systems planner for the city of Atlanta, was there representing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ goal of having 85% of Atlanta residents living within a half mile of fresh, affordable food.

“Fresh food access is a really big piece of our work,” said Elizabeth Beak, food systems planner for the city of Atlanta. “There are community gardens every few blocks in this area and bees and bee habitats help pollinate every three bites that we take.”

Cruse-Sanders’ neighbor in Athens, Yvonne Studevan, came to the planting as a volunteer with a rich history of the A.M.E. faith. Studevan is a seventh-generation descendant of Richard Allen, who founded the first Bethel A.M.E. church in Philadelphia in 1794. AME churches, she said, were designed to be within walking distance of predominantly African American neighborhoods.

“I think this garden will help revitalize and bring life into the neighborhood,” Studevan said.

Partners on the project include the State Botanical Garden of Georgia as well as, USDA Forest Service, Southern Region, Georgia Pollinator Partnership, Repair the World, Food Well Allliance, Atlanta Botanical Garden, The Conservation Fund, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience, Ambassador Lindsay Street Park – English Avenue, Owner St. Mark and The Beloved Community, Inc.


Heather Skyler Managing Editor • 706-542-4285


Jenny Cruse-Sanders State Botanical Garden Director • 706-542-6131

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Children’s Garden Now Open!

We are excited to announce that the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden will be open to all visitors during the garden’s regular visitation hours, 7am – 7pm.  While we will not be monitoring numbers we do have some guidelines for visitors to keep in mind during the visit:


Things to know about your visit:

  • Please maintain a safe social distance of six feet even while outside
  • When unable to maintain a safe social distance we ask you to wear face coverings
  • Garden staff will be disinfecting surfaces
  • Restrooms are open but it is important to not crowd in the restrooms.  Water fountains will not be available so please be sure to hydrate and bring your own water bottle.
  • Garden staff may close off portions of the garden when working in specific areas.
  • Exploration encouraged and supervision required. It is essential that parents/guardians maintain supervision of children at all times.

UGA’s State Botanical Garden of Georgia brings the buzz to the Athens community

The buzz around UGA this spring is coming from East Campus Road and Sanford Drive.

That’s where bees, butterflies and other insects are gathering around new pollinator plant beds installed to raise awareness of importance of native plants, as well as draw attention to the university’s recent Bee Campus USA designation.

“Of course we want a beautiful landscape with lots of flowers. We can have that and also support wildlife in a big way,” says Lauren Muller, conservation outreach coordinator for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. “We want to teach people that even a small garden can make a difference, because we’re connecting patches of habitat throughout urban and suburban areas through which insects and birds can move and find shelter and food.”

Muller, working with the UGA Facilities Management Division, installed garden beds with native pollinator plants—including the garden’s Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year—on land at East Campus Road and Carlton Street, and on Sanford Drive next to the Tate Center.

“We’re hoping that people start to think more about the ways that their landscapes can and should function,” Muller says.

In March, UGA was officially recognized as a Bee Campus by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The designation means that UGA has demonstrated a commitment to enhance and promote pollinators on campus.

The process to become a Bee Campus USA was launched with the establishment of the UGA Campus Pollinator Committee formed in 2019 with representatives from the State Botanical Garden, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit, as well as UGA entomology and horticulture experts, university landscapers and grounds crew.

Coordinated by Tyra Byers, director of the Interdisciplinary Sustainability Certificate, the goal was to bring together a cross section of university experts to increase opportunities for research, experiential learning and sustainability efforts at UGA.

“We see campus as a living laboratory, so we would like for there to be opportunities for public service and outreach—where we’re using the grounds to teach and educate and engage people with these resources,” Byers says. “We have a number of classes that are using the grounds for experiential learning opportunities. We want to know how we can enhance and highlight and pilot things here to see if they can be expanded and shared elsewhere.”

Muller and Steve Mitchell, a UGA landscape architect, developed the plan to bring the botanical garden’s Georgia Pollinator Plants of the Year (GPPY) to campus. The 2021 plants, which are selected for their value towards pollinators as well as for their beauty and ease of care, include False Rosemary, Sweet Pepper Bush, Downy Goldenrod and Butterfly Weed.

GPPY was launched last year at the State Botanical Garden, in partnership with UGA Extension, the Georgia Green Industry Association and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to encourage growers to produce more Georgia native pollinator plants and encourage consumers to incorporate them into their gardens. Four GPPY are selected each year, one for each category: Spring Bloomer, Summer Bloomer, Fall Bloomer and a Georgia Native.

“We’ve got hundreds of acres of landscapes and seeing that there was this effort at having pollinator plants on campus, it just seemed like a good idea and it just kind of worked itself out organically,” Mitchell says. “There is a movement of sorts to be more conscious of our pollinators and to provide habitat [for them]. We are huge fans of the botanical garden and the Mimsie Center, and anything we can do to help strengthen our partnership, we’re all for it.”

You can learn more about the Campus Pollinator Project at, where you can also view an interactive map of pollinator locations on campus.

Improvements to UGA’s State Botanical Garden make trails, riverbank more accessible

The roughly half dozen miles of nature trails at the UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia are frequented by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Now they are accessible to visitors in wheelchairs, pushing strollers or those who have trouble navigating natural terrain.

More than a decade in the works, the garden’s multi-year project focused on creating easier access to sections of the trail that run alongside the Middle Oconee River, specifically the White and Orange Trails. This included renovating and widening sections of the trail, building a new accessible boardwalk, and installing adjacent ADA accessible parking spots.

“Improving accessibility is extremely important to us,” said Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia. “It’s fundamental to being a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, which serves the public, that we always look for ways to improve accessibility.”

In addition to increasing accessibility to the trail system, the trail realignment project also addressed problems caused by encroaching invasive plant species, heavy use, and years of reoccurring floods that had eroded sections of the trail, making them tenuous or even impossible to cross.

Jim Affolter, director of conservation and research at the botanical garden, spearheaded the efforts to rebuild and improve the trails, which included moving sections of it away from the riverbank and replacing invasive Chinese privet with native Georgia river cane.

“It makes the experience of hiking the trails safer and more pleasurable for a lot of our existing audiences,” said Affolter. “It helps preserve our natural areas by helping address areas with serious erosion. It also opens up natural areas in ways they haven’t been before for folks with differing abilities and limitations.”

The garden received grants from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trails Program and the Riverview Foundation to address these concerns over the past two years. The grant applications included a promise to include workforce development in the trail project.

They brought in the Greening Youth Foundation’s Urban Youth Corps, an Atlanta-based program which connects under-represented youth and young adults with the outdoors and careers in conservation, to help clear exotic invasive plants and build a new trail.

A team of five youth corps members spent six days working on the trails, learning to identify and remove invasive species while also treating the area to help prevent the damaging plants from returning.

“The overall goal for our young adults is for them to gain skills in green spaces; transferrable skills for them to be able to better their livelihood and become stewards of the environment,” said Daniel Jones, Urban Youth Corps director. “It’s all about empowering these young adults; empowering them in green spaces. Teaching them professional and character development skills.”

Supervised by Gary Crider, the garden’s invasive species technician, the Urban Youth Corps improved the riverbank area and helped create a new trail section that connects the nearby UGArden with the botanical garden’s Orange Trail.

“It’s been phenomenal [working with them],” Crider said. “Manpower is critical to removing this stuff and these guys don’t complain, they work hard, and we’ve been able to get a huge amount done. They’ve exceeded my expectations.”

The revamped and new trail sections are open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day except UGA holidays.

For more information and details on the State Botanical Garden trails, visit

Writer: Aaron Cox,, 706-542-3631
Contact: Jenny Cruse Sanders,, 706-542-6131

Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum now open

The Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is now open. The newest building at the garden holds the personal porcelain and decorative arts from Deen Day Sanders. The space is designed to draw environmental and conservation connections to the collections in the museum.

There are eight different gallery spaces blending subjects of conservation, botanicals, art, beauty and curiosity represented in the porcelain pieces. Adjacent to the building is the Discovery and Inspiration Garden, where visitors can connect to the living botanical collection represented on so many of the porcelain pieces in the museum. Please join staff and docents in the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum to develop your own ideas on art and nature and become inspired to see the natural environment through the lens of the many porcelain arts on display.

The Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Entry to the museum is free, and no reservations are required. Registration for museum tours is available at the information desk in the Visitor Center.

New entrance at UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia makes grounds and facilities more accessible

A new entranceway to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia includes an outdoor elevator to allow visitors to more easily reach the grounds and facilities from the parking lots, and is the first of a trio of garden construction projects to be completed.

The entrance, which was completed and opened in mid-October, improves accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers, as well as people who aren’t comfortable on stairs.
“I’ve been trying to convince my department to come here for a field trip and this makes it more likely,” said Christine Bishop, a special education teacher from Atlanta, who was in Athens to visit the garden. “A lot of my kids have wheelchairs and it’s difficult when we go on field trips sometimes, but this elevator here is a big game changer. All the wheelchair accessible walkways make a big difference too. The proximity to the parking lot is also just really nice and convenient for people with special needs, both young and old.”
The well-marked entrance also helps visitors know immediately where to go after they park, and they can glimpse the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center & Conservatory and the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden from an overlook before taking the elevator or stairs to the ground.

“It’s a completely new view of the botanical garden and really ties together the area where people come in and first become oriented,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden.

The entranceway, with a bridge and walkway, is one of three projects that have been underway at the garden since August 2019. A Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum and Discovery and Inspiration Garden, which make up the garden’s Center for Arts and Nature (CAN), are nearing completion.

The interior of the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum is expected to be finished by the end the year, with a variety of porcelain pieces from around the world installed before the center’s dedication on Jan. 29, 2021.

The extensive collection, donated by long-time garden supporter Deen Day Sanders, will be exhibited in permanent and rotating displays.

“Displaying the pieces on a rotating basis will give us an opportunity to create unique experiences,” said John Graham, director of finance and administration for the garden. “This way we can bring in new audiences and highlight different aspects of Deen’s collection.”

The Discovery and Inspiration Garden will surround the museum, with native plants and pollinators on display at eye level for adults and children. A pond will support the life cycles of frogs, dragonflies and other animal life in the garden. A great lawn will provide space for classes and special events.

The projects are privately funded, with gifts from Sanders, the Callaway Foundation, Tom Wight, Jim Miller, Mike and Betty Devore, Chuck and Suzanne Murphy, the Garden Club of Georgia Inc., and donors from across Georgia.

Writer: Émilie Gille,, 706-583-0964
Contact: Jennifer Cruse-Sanders,, 706-542-6131