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UGA Research & Education Garden

Garden History

Garden Tree PlantingThe UGA Research and Education Garden officially opened its gates on October 25, 1995, with a ribbon-cutting event attended by University, industry, and community representatives.  The 65 acres on which the Garden was established had previously been used for horticultural research with peaches, grapes, muscadines, peppers, apples, and Christmas trees.  Dr. Joyce G. Latimer, Professor of Horticulture, was the principal leader and organizer in converting the plot land into a unique showcase of science-based research in gardening, landscape management, and environmental horticulture.

A capital funding campaign initiated in 1997 netted over $175,000 for installation of the Demonstration Area within the Garden.  This area houses a series of theme gardens displaying plant selection and management, landscape design principles, and practices for improving and sustaining environmental quality.  The irrigation system for the Demonstration Area was installed and later updated by members of the Georgia Irrigation Association.  Plant material, soil amendments, hardscape materials, and labor were donated by industry, professional associations, civic and garden clubs, and members of the local community.  Thirteen theme gardens were installed in 1998 and 1999.  Others have been added since 2000.

Garden Education BuildingThe Garden Education Building was constructed and dedicated in 2008.  Funding for the construction was from UGA sources and donations from the Friends of the Garden and individuals within the community.  The Joyce G. Latimer Classroom within the building was named in honor and recognition of Dr. Latimer’s efforts in establishing the Garden.

The inaugural research project in the Garden was funded by the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources and initiated in 1995.  The project examined the impact of shade, irrigation, and other factors on landscape plant management. The plots established with the funding continue to serve as sites for other research projects.  Altogether, the Garden houses 15 to 20 research projects each year.  Many of those plots add to the aesthetics of the Garden.

The Friends of the Garden organization was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2000 and provides support to the Garden and its mission with volunteer labor and funding derived from membership dues and fundraising activities.  Their support has provided for the installation of the Garden gateway, paving of roadways and parking areas, construction of the Garden Education Building, and various supplies and equipment used in maintenance of the Garden.

In 2010, an initiative was begun to identify existing trees within the Garden and to plant additional trees with the intent of establishing an arboretum of trees adapted for urban environments. 

Partnerships with professional industry, professional associations, regulatory agencies, civic organizations, local school systems, Southern Crescent Technical College Environmental Horticulture Program, the Georgia Master Gardeners, and other community entities have benefited all partners.  The estimated 10,000 people who visit the Garden each year will attest that the UGA Research and Education Garden is “cultivating minds and the environment” in its research and education programs.