A bouquet of botanical events, tours to enjoy this spring

The Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden at the Atlanta History Center shelters one of the state s most comprehensive collections of plants native to pre-settlement Georgia, many of which are rare and/or endangered. Photos: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

“No one living remembers the rock quarry in Buckhead,” an Atlanta Journal article from March 24, 1976, began. “Its past is uncertain, but its future is secure.”

The vintage write-up about the property’s transformation from “a jungle of weedy plants and a catch basin for drainage” into a glorious garden boasting native species quoted the late historian Franklin Garrett discussing its former use. The parcel had been the Fulton County quarry from the 1880s to around 1920. Dynamite would cleave rocks from the earth, and mule-drawn wagons would convey the loads out to become road beds. Atlanta commuters may still be driving over the crushed rock that became the foundation of Peachtree Street.

The site lay overgrown and forgotten for years until the Atlanta History Center completed a survey in 1972. With the help of the Mimosa Garden Club, the dormant quarry became what is today the Mary Howard Gilbert Memorial Quarry Garden. Covering 3 acres at a depth of 25 feet, the garden is a cool oasis even on warm days. If you haven’t seen it, you can tour it and the Atlanta History Center’s other gardens for free as part of National Public Gardens Day on May 11. The event features guided garden and exhibition tours and activities such as making sachets with garden herbs and plant potting with the Fulton County 4-H Club, which is based at the Atlanta History Center. To cap things off, guests are invited to a 5 p.m. wine reception in McElreath Hall where horticulturists and curators will be eager to mingle. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta. AtlantaHistoryCenter.com.

An abandoned quarry is now a verdant oasis behind the Atlanta History Center’s main building on West Paces Ferry Road. Photos: Jennifer Brett

Metro Atlanta is abloom with a bountiful bouquet of gorgeous gardens, the upside to all the rainy days and spiking pollen rates. Here are more ideas for enjoying the green scene this spring.

The Sope Creek Garden Club plant sale. Beautify your landscape with native plants and shrubs from members’ gardens. Free admission; plant prices vary. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday Eastside Baptist Church, 2450 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta. See this link for more details

The Douglas County Master Gardeners’ annual plant sale. Transplant flowers, herbs and vegetables from members’ gardens into yours. Among the offerings will be heirloom varieties and flowers and herbs that attract pollinators to your yard. Free admission; plant prices vary. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday8750 Dorris Road, Douglasville (next to the Woodie Fite Senior Center). Information here.

The Paulding County Master Gardeners’ plant sale. Members report a bumper crop of hellebore (also known as Lenten rose) this year. Also up for grabs will be annuals, perennials, herbs, bulbs, vegetables, fruits, shrubs and trees. Free admission; plant prices vary. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Paulding County Extension Office, 530 W. Memorial Drive, Dallas. Information here.

Wylde Garden Tour. Tour private gardens in greater Decatur. Tour stops include the Wylde Center’s Oakhurst Garden (435 Oakview Road), which includes community plots, a greenhouse, a mini farm, herb garden, chickens and pocket ecosystems. A plant sale at the Oakhurst Garden offers vegetables, herbs, annuals and perennials. Also featured: the Scott Park Community Garden (231 Sycamore St.), established in 1992. The urban oasis behind the Decatur Recreation Center features beds planted with herbs, flowers and vegetables. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Advance tickets are $20, $15 for Wylde Center members and $25 the day of the tour. Information here.

The Georgia Hosta Society’s annual show and plant sale. If you have lots of shade in your yard or terrace, hostas are your best friend. And hosta leaves provide a great base for floral arrangements. This event gives you the opportunity to admire prize-winning varieties and take some home. 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. May 12 in the Fellowship Hall of First Baptist Church of Tucker, 2367 Main St., Tucker. Free admission. If you’d like to enter the show, submissions will be accepted from 3-6 p.m. May 11 and from 7-8:30 a.m. May 12. Information here.

Hostas love the shade and their leaves are great to use in floral arrangements. Photos: Jennifer Brett

Cobb County Master Gardeners. This year’s garden tour benefiting the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County features four private gardens, the newly constructed Community Garden at Hyde Farm and the gardens at Murdock Elementary School (2320 Murdock Road, Marietta). At each stop, teams of master gardeners will be present to discuss plant selection, soil preparation, and best practices with visitors. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 12. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the event and free for children 17 and younger. Information here.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s annual Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour. The self-guided event features 10 private gardens and is rain or shine. Prepare for weather and uneven terrain. Street parking is available near each site, but organizers recommend carpooling and note that bathroom facilities are not available at tour stops. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 12-13. Tickets are $28 in advance ($22 for Atlanta Botanical Garden members) and $35 on the day of the tour. Tickets are valid both dates. Free for children 12 and younger. Information here.

“The Fern Lady.” Eleanor Craig has earned her botanical nickname after decades of experience in landscaping and maintenance. She’ll share her considerable knowledge at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Bethesda Senior Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville. Admission is free. Information here.

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