After months of planning, the Garden of the Coastal Plain at Georgia Southern University has a new name, the Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University, and with it, a dynamic new plan for growth. The Botanic Garden’s new vision will enhance the visitor experience and educational opportunities through additional gardens, and will attract patrons from across the state and region.
“We needed a name and a brand that sets us apart from other gardens, tells everyone where we are, and will grow as we do,” says Lisa Laun, president of the Garden’s Board of Advisors.
Garden leadership worked with design firm Perkins + Will and community members to conceptualize a master plan for new gardens, which includes a labyrinth, a new multilevel children’s garden, accessible trails, an orchard and paths that climb through meadows and wander through wetland gardens.
The Garden’s showpiece will be a tower, loosely inspired by the native Coastal Plain pitcher plant, which visitors may climb via a spiral staircase to reach viewing balconies along the way and an expansive view of the Garden at the top. Built into every aspect of the plan are educational opportunities.
“We’ve already started measuring,” says Robert Randolph, the Garden’s associate director. “This plan won’t be sitting on a shelf. We’ve begun solving problems like visibility, parking and a beautiful, safe and easy to find entrance.”
The additions to the Garden will take place at the current location, 1505 Bland Avenue. The new entrance will be constructed to have greater visual impact and easier accessibility for visitors. It features an undulating boundary wall with a park-like grass covered entry way and a parking garden for guests.
Other new aspects include circular spaces or garden rooms featuring a Council Ring designed to provide a garden meeting space; a labyrinth or garden maze; and a showcase garden with open windows within a viewing wall.
Space between the Garden’s allee and Fair Road will feature a Magnolia Allee Rise to serve as a focal point for photographs and a sound barrier to traffic on the roadway.
“In addition to local folks who have become part of the Garden family, we’re attracting people from Savannah and travelers from the I-95 corridor,” added Carolyn Altman, director of the Garden. “They are all impressed with what the Garden offers, and we want them to go home and tell everyone that the Garden is a must-see destination.
The Garden will use the special story already here to create a magical place for the future.” The Garden’s special story also includes educating children and teachers. The Botanic Garden was the recent recipient of a Museums for America grant to be used to help regional educators teach science more effectively. A special curriculum was developed for teachers by Kathy Tucker, Garden education -coordinator and grant writer. Teachers and students will be engaging in hands-on activities within the Garden to enhance the skills needed for solving scientific challenges.-
Part of the Botanic Garden’s master plan includes improvement to the children’s area. A Children’s Learning Garden will be located near the Oak Grove One Room Schoolhouse, and is designed to encourage exploration by gardeners of all ages with special attention to accessibility. The Children’s Learning Garden will be surrounded by an orchard and will be adjacent to the Garden’s nursery, where specimen plants are nurtured year-round.
Other features include a bog and wetland garden, a canopy walk, meadow, hillside hollow and garden, plus new pathways allowing visitors to explore even more of the Garden.
Aspire! the fundraising plan for the project, has already begun.
“It’s going to take all of us to make this happen,” said Altman. “This is our chance to do something really special that will last a long time.”
Editor’s note: For more information on the Botanic Garden’s expansion plans or to become a donor, please email Carolyn Altman at email@example.com. For information concerning the Museums of America grant for teachers email Kathy Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Both Altman and Tucker may be reached by phone at the Garden, 912-478-1149.