Thursday, May 29, 2014

Atlanta Trip Report #2 - Atlanta History Center Gardens featuring American Ginger, American Smoke Tree, Indian Pink and More!

Just a humble place to call home...  Atlanta History Center's circa 1928 Swan House

For a gardener visiting Atlanta, it's hard to top the allure of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

But there are other garden attractions in Dogwood City, including the gardens at the Atlanta History Center. These gardens include both the formal gardens around the 1928 Swan House, as well a variety of Georgia native plants nestled into a wild and wooded ravine. Here are some glimpses into these two very different types of gardens:

Formal Swan House garden, Atlanta, Georgia
The formal side garden at the Swan House. Fountain? Check. Statuary and columns? Yep. Boxwoods and crape myrtles abound. It's not my style at all, but I can appreciate the symmetry and the clean lines.

This wild garden in a woodland ravine was more to my liking with some beautiful Oakleaf Hydrangeas
The woodland garden contained this lovely thick carpet of native Asarum canadense, American Ginger. I understand that this plant needs shade to survive in the South, not sure how much moisture it requires. Unlike cooking ginger (Zingiber officinalis), A. canadense is typically described as toxic or inedible, but Hank Shaw at Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook has done an interesting analysis suggesting it may not be as toxic as some people fear - particularly if used to make tea and drunk in moderation.

Cotinus obovatus, American Smoke Tree is high on my list of coveted trees that I hope to add to my garden. I've usually seen it described as a full-sun plant, but it seemed to be growing happily in this shady ravine at the Atlanta History Center

Light filters through the canopy of Cotinus obovatus, American Smoke Tree. The "obovatus" name comes from the egg-shaped leaves.

Here's a close-up on the Smoke Tree's smoky flowers. I suspect that trees grown in the shade will have fewer flowers than those in full-sun settings. 

A healthy, beautiful patch of Spigelia marilandica (a.k.a. Indian Pink or Pinkroot). I have three little newly-added Indian Pinks in my garden, so it's fun to see how large these plants can get!

Thelypteris hexagonoptera, Broad Beech Fern
Thelypteris hexagonoptera, Broad Beech Fern, apparently native throughout Eastern North America, reportedly makes a good deciduous groundcover in moist, shady settings. Clemson says it prefers constant moisture, but can withstand some drought.
Woodwardia areolata, Netted Chain Fern
Woodwardia areolata, Netted Chain Fern, native throughout Eastern North America (zones 5-9) in wet, swampy marshes, woodlands and flood plains. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center calls it well-mannered, but Missouri Botanical Garden says it can spread almost to the point of being weedy.