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State's public gardens are perfect vacation, day trip spots By Paul Pugliese

Looking for a low-budget vacation with lots of beautiful scenery? Consider visiting a public or historical garden.

This is a great way to get outdoors, hike, breathe fresh air and, of course, borrow (or steal) some new landscape and gardening ideas. Also, you’ll save on fuel costs because a weekend garden vacation can be as close as Atlanta, Rome or even Athens.

Fun for young and old

Visiting public or historical gardens can introduce you to new plants and trees. Often, botanical gardens and arboretums have theme gardens that are fun and entertaining for adults and children of all ages.

Examples of theme gardens include sensory gardens that have interesting plants with various tastes, colors, textures, sounds and smells. Other gardens focus on mimicking certain climates such as tropical gardens or succulent gardens.

Others may focus on certain cultural aspects like Japanese tea or bonsai gardens. There are also herb gardens, culinary gardens, vegetable gardens, water gardens, children’s gardens, butterfly gardens, shade gardens, rose gardens, native plant gardens, rain gardens and drought tolerant or xeriscape gardens, just to name a few.

Small and large, all across the state

Public and historical gardens can be found across the state in every possible shape and size. State botanical gardens and arboretums can provide an entire day of entertainment. Small demonstration or trial gardens offer a taste of local garden possibilities and plants adapted to particular areas.

Many state universities have excellent teaching and educational gardens that are open to the public. They often have their own version of a botanical garden or arboretum, too.

A few examples are Georgia Perimeter College Botanical Garden in Decatur; Georgia Research and Education Garden at the University of Georgia campus in Griffin; the State Botanical Garden of Georgia or the UGA Arboretum both on the UGA campus in Athens; Georgia Southern Botanical Garden in Statesboro; and Waddell Barnes Botanical Garden at Macon College in Macon.

View a well-manicured stadium, too

Taking a tour of your favorite college football stadium can be an added bonus for sports lovers. These visits also expose teenagers to future college choices.

Many UGA Cooperative Extension offices have demonstration gardens at or near their offices, too. Call your local Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 for information on gardens in your county.

So, why not soak up some sunshine, learn something new and visit a public garden this summer?

(Paul Pugliese is the agriculture & natural resources agent for the University of Georgia Extension office in Bartow County.)

Theme garden
Theme garden

Visitors to the Georgia Research and Education Garden in Griffin, Ga., can get landscaping ideas by walking through the facility's theme gardens.

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Visitors to the Georgia Research and Education Garden in Griffin, Ga., can get landscaping ideas by walking through the facility's theme gardens. Download Image
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