The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is home to a stunning range of collections, displays and trails. Here, our devoted horticultural staff take a moment to introduce them to you.
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I like to share the beauty of the Gardens and provide a learning experience for our visitors. In the Herb and Physic Garden, always be on the lookout for unfamiliar plants or something very familiar featured for an unfamiliar use. For instance, this summer I’ve included in the Garden a pot of Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle) to show that a plant you’d probably never want in your Garden has beneficial uses. Stinging nettle is used as a textile dye, a nutritious food source and a textile fiber. It has several medicinal uses including the treatment of arthritis. In the Visitor’s Center, you’ll find an ever changing display of tropical plants in the areas surrounding the Great Room(upper level). Showy specimens from our Tropical Greenhouse Collection are featured in the Conservatory throughout the year. You never know when you’ll see an Ananas comosus (Pineapple) with ripening fruit or the amazing flower of the Aristolochia gigantean (Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe).
I am Ben Fletcher, Curator of the Shade and Native Flora Gardens. I have a BBA in Management and a BLA (Bachelor of Landscape Architecture.) I acquired my love of plants and the landscape from my father, who is an avid gardener. I spent my childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, my adolescence in Statesboro, Georgia, and my adult life in Athens, Georgia. I have a beautiful wife and two insane dogs; it is a real bummer that dogs are not allowed at the SBG, but know that we are all dog lovers and wish we could bring our pups here as well! My gardens are at their peak in the spring when dogwoods, magnolias and azaleas are bursting with color! The Native Flora Garden is especially enchanting as we watch spring ephemerals and wild flowers bloom in succession—almost every day brings something new! The fall is also a great time to see the glorious colors of the Garden as the leaves change from green to reds, yellows, oranges and purples. When the weather is cool, it is time to start looking for the Camellias to shine! In the summertime, it is a great Garden to have a leisurely stroll to stay cool in the shade. As I like to claim, I have it “made in the shade!”
As a nature lover, I am happiest when it surrounds me. I have hope that, in a world of hustle and bustle, people will still take time to smell the roses and appreciate the great outdoors. I am wild about the International Garden because I feel it has something for everyone. I have favorites in the Garden, but nonetheless I enjoy being able to see the subtle day-to-day changes the most.
As former curator of the Heritage Garden, I was able to draw from my background in biology and science education while connecting with people and history. My favorite part of working in the Heritage Garden was getting to hear the gardening stories that visitors share with me as they pass through. Some recognize heirloom flowers that their grandparents grew while others remember their experiences growing up on farms. I also thoroughly enjoyed prepping soil, sowing seed and generally “looking after” our crops until harvest alongside coworkers, volunteers, summer campers and adult participants in gardening programs.
I graduated from The University of Georgia with a BSA in Horticulture. I am an avid BullDAWG fan in all sports but mainly football. I am passionate about plants and enjoy all plants for what they bring to the environment. I have worked in almost every phase of horticulture during my career. Creating something that people enjoy is what makes me most proud of what I do.
I am Wade Seymour, grounds foreman here at the Garden. I have seen many changes and additions over my twenty some odd years working here. I am a graduate of the Warnell School of Forestry and have hiked many trails in the Appalachians and out West. My responsibilities include overseeing large construction and maintenance projects when curator crews need help. I take care of most of the non-theme areas of the Garden properties. The road corridors, parking lot landscapes and many of the building landscapes are my area of responsibility. I also take care of our equipment. Our five miles of trails and two miles of electric deer fence take up a lot of my time.
Some of my most poignant childhood memories include seeding and harvesting vegetables and flowers with my Dad and helping tend to giant houseplants passed from generation to generation, friend to friend, with my Mom. When it came time to choose a major in college, I sat down and paged through the different departments and classes and noted studies that sounded enjoyable. I did not consider location or income. I only considered personal fulfillment. What sounded fun? If I was going to do it all day every day I needed to love it! I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from the University of Georgia in 1994. During college I interned at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and worked there during the summers as Greenhouse Assistant. After graduating I returned to ABG full-time for several years. It was there I developed a passion for greenhouses and a love for Botanical gardens. In September of 2007 I became Greenhouse Manager at SBG. I love my job and I love the Garden. I’m proud of what I do and look forward to many more years of it!
The Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program, a joint venture between the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, UGA Extension Service and the Georgia Plant Nursery Industry, selects up to five plants annually that are considered outstanding plants to have in your landscape.
The Garden’s Learn More! QR Code Program grew out of my desire to send our visitors home with more information. The program, thanks to the help of the UGA Cooperative Extension and our own Curators, now allows visitors to scan codes placed throughout the Garden and learn more about the area they are visiting. I focused the program on three areas: Growing Tips, Usage Tips and Learn More Tips. Our Growing Tips explain how one can integrate plants seen at the Garden into a home Garden. Usage Tips describe plants that usually can’t be grown at home, but can be found in common everyday products. The Learn More Tips cover broader topics of interest, such as information about monastic gardens—the inspiration for our Herb Garden. So take out those phones, start up your QR app and enjoy!