When you think of Savannah, do you think of bamboo groves? If you do, you’re right. Bamboo has thrived here for over 100 years at what locals affectionately call “The Bamboo Farm.”
However, this “farm” is nothing like your grandfather’s farm. It is a beautiful historic botanical garden. This is a haven for both gardeners and history buffs alike. Located ten miles southwest of Savannah’s Historic District, the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens is a treasure to behold.
There are 12 separate garden collections including over 70 varieties of bamboo from all over the world, tropical trees, lotus, iris, roses, daylilies, orchids, camellias, a water garden, as well as pick-your-own berries (strawberries, blackberries and blueberries between mid-March through July), and sugar cane (boiled down into cane syrup every fall at the Fall Family Festival).
The gardens were originally a modest 46-acre farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. Miller. Around 1890, Mrs. Miller got her hands on a few clumps of giant Japanese timber bamboo and planted them near her farmhouse. Bamboo, being bamboo, grew (to over 60 feet tall) and spread like wildfire (almost overtaking her neighbors’ land). Ultimately, her bamboo became a valuable crop for timber and a tasty food source (bamboo shoots) for local restaurants.
Through a succession of owners, benefactors, and the United States Department of Agriculture, the Bamboo Farm was finally, in 1983, deeded to the University of Georgia for use as an education and research center. Today, the garden’s custodians like to think of themselves as a “zookeepers for plants.”
The 51-acres of gardens are open free to the public daily year around, except major holidays. They are located near Richmond Hill at 2 Canebrake Road, at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 17 South and Canebrake Road, just past Keller’s Flea Market. For hours and more information, call (912) 921-5460.