Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Goizueta Gardens: Frank A. Smith Memorial Rhododendron Garden

The Frank A. Smith Memorial Rhododendron Garden offers visitors something special year-round. Its vistas are spectacular, its pathways are inviting, its shade is comforting, and its colors are spread throughout, different ones popping up in different seasons.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Who was Frank A. Smith

Smith started a landscape and nursery business in the 1930s, his original location in Buckhead, at Peachtree Street and Pharr Road, not far from the Atlanta History CenterHe was a prominent Atlanta landscape architect, or "landscape nurseryman" as called in a 1987 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article) who was quite fond of rhododendrons and azaleas. 

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This garden was dedicated at 3pm on Sunday, July 26, 1987, which happened to be less than three weeks after I moved to Atlanta. I had not yet discovered this wonderful place, being buried in books on computer science. After I did discover the Center, it quickly became a personal favorite destination, including its many wonderful gardens.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This garden was designed by the Azalea Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Smith was a past president of the local chapter.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Smith had been involved with planting a Rhododendron garden at the Atlanta History Center as early as the late 70s, early 80s, when the Center was still called the Atlanta Historical Society.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The garden is filled with shade-loving plants making it perfect for a shaded leisurely stroll.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The gazebo is a replica of one at a private home. I don't recall the full story, but if you see a gardener here when you visit, they'll likely be happy to share the story. I met Valerie on my most recent visit and we had a lovely discussion about the gardens. 

The gazebo was relocated from the Sims Asian Garden. There's always something new and exciting here at the Atlanta History Center!

We're not sure what the symbol is on top of the gazebo...anyone recognize it? We thought it might be an architect's tool, but haven't been able to confirm that. Anyone know?

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This photo of the gazebo's ceiling is merely an invitation to truly explore the garden while you're here. There are delightful "hidden" surprises throughout. Also in the gazebo is a table that the architect created after visiting the garden one day and seeing a table in it that did not flatter the design of the gazebo.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Visit throughout the year! You'll always find something interesting here or something you've not seen before.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

In my experience, this blue hydrangea is the most common in the South, but I wanted to include it for visitors not from the South because as common as it may be, it's still beautiful.

Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Frank A. Smith Memorial Garden | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This part of the garden features a simulated mountain stream, with a rock bed flanked by boulders from Tennessee.

Today, Smith's original company does business as Frank A. Smith Nursuries and sells primarily an array of groundcovers and perennials.


The Other Gardens: This is the first post in a series sharing the beauty of the nine gardens on the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre campus. You can find them all here.

No comments: