After a long cold winter, nothing says ‘spring is here’ quite like the blooming of the rhododendron at Hamilton Gardens. The yearly tradition of strolling through the magnificent and rare beauty of over 400 varieties of rhododendrons in an explosion of colors and varieties has finally arrived!
Quietly tucked away in the North Georgia mountains, sits a rare and special treasure. A botanical paradise fairly bursting with dogwoods, tulip magnolias. native azaleas, wild flowers, trillium, and, of course, rhododendron. There are over 400 varieties of rhododendron – 3,000 plants in all. Welcome to the Hamilton Gardens, a truly enchanted spot, boasting the largest collection of rhododendron in the state of Georgia. Stroll tranquil pine bark trails as they wind through lush foliage. Drink in the stunning views of Lake Chatuge and breathtaking countryside, including the majestic rise of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak.
In the early 1950s, Fred Hamilton, an executive of the Sears Roebuck Company, bought a home in the Atlanta area and was delighted to discover native plants, including rhododendron and azaleas, on the site. He and his wife Hazel later purchased a place in Towns County, Georgia near the “Hog Creek” community. There, they found more rhododendron and other wild native plants. This sparked their interest in creating a lush garden where they brought many other varieties of rhododendron from all over the world. The Hamiltons were happy to share the beauty of their gardens with others and invited visitors to tour the grounds.
As time went by and the gardens grew, caretakers were needed to help maintain them. Mr. Hamilton began to realize that he could no longer care for the gardens as he once did. He searched for a place to donate his extensive collection of rhododendrons, where the conditions were right and the soil conducive to their growth. Tests were done and a compatible soil was discovered at the grounds of the Georgia Mountain Fair. In 1982, Mr. Hamilton generously donated his collection to the Fair, and they were transplanted in an area where they could be cared for and appreciated by thousands of visitors yearly.
While every day is a special event in the Hamilton Gardens, peak viewing season usually occurs the last two weeks in April through the first two weeks in May. The Gardens are open year around. The Fair maintains the plants and the gentle walking trails throughout the garden. Plant enthusiasts will find a selection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants available for purchase at the gardens during the peak season.
The gardens are opening from 9 AM until 3 PM daily with a minimal entrance fee of $3 during the blooming season and guided walking tours and shuttle tours are also available by appointment for a slightly higher fee of $5 per person.
The Hamilton Gardens is, operating through the Georgia Mountain Fair, Inc., is a non-profit organization.
Come enjoy our beautiful gardens this year! Contact us at 706-896-4191 for more information. Don’t forget to visit our Vision for the Future Page!
Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HamiltonGardensonLakeChatuge
Towns County Lions Club
Towns-Union County Association Georgia Master Gardeners
Hiawassee Garden Club