Atlanta garden clubs care for, celebrate neighborhood parks

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Atlanta garden clubs care for, celebrate neighborhood parks

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Duck Pond Park in Buckhead’s Peachtree Heights East neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Ladies of the Lake Garden Club.

Atlanta is known for its trees and greenspace, like Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. But can you tell me about some of the neighborhood gardens and parks?

Atlanta’s beauty abounds this time of year, especially in pockets of greenspace tucked into historic neighborhoods. Two of those longtime parks and gardens are receiving attention this spring.

The Lullwater Conservation Garden is nestled in Atlanta’s historic Druid Hills neighborhood. The 6.5-acre garden, located near Emory University, is one of the oldest patches of forest in the Atlanta area.

Walk through the stone columns, and you’ll enter into a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. Some of its trees, which include poplars, Chinese fir, magnolias and dogwoods, are believed to be hundreds of years old.

“It really is, to me, an oasis,” said Jennifer Richardson, president of the Lullwater Conservation Garden Club.

Frederick Law Olmsted, known as the “father of American landscape architecture” with notable projects such Central Park, set aside portions of land when he designed the Druid Hills neighborhood, Richardson said. Those spaces, located near creeks or wetlands areas, were to be protected from development.

“Olmsted really valued parkland—especially near water sources,” Richardson said.

With Lullwater Creek running through the center, the risk of flooding prevented the land from being cultivated, but made it a lush spot for what became Lullwater Conservation Garden in 1931. The club, founded in 1928, cared for the garden and purchased it from Emory University in the 1960s.

Today, the garden will be inducted as a “Dedicated Forest” into the Old Growth Forest Network, which works to preserve and promote areas that have never been developed and are full of indigenous plants.

“We’re so thrilled with it, because it really gives a stamp of approval that what we have is special,” Richardson said.

In Buckhead, residents of Peachtree Heights East recently raised $700,000 over two years to restore the nearly century-old Duck Pond Park. The neighborhood, bordered by Lindbergh Drive, East Wesley Road, Acorn Avenue and Peachtree Road, was developed in 1909 by Eretus “Petie” Rivers around a 7-acre green space, said Peggy Allumbaugh, a member of its Ladies of the Lake Garden Club. In the 1920s, a two-acre pond was dug out where two small tributaries to Peachtree Creek merged onto the property. When ducks appeared, it became known as the duck pond.

The garden club’s 31st Annual Garden Party on May 7 will show off the revival of Duck Pond Park, says Maureen Lomenick, a co-chair of this year’s event with Allumbaugh. Updates include completing a stone wall around the pond, adding paths, repairing erosion and enhancing plantings.

“It’s celebrating the restoration of the duck pond,” she said.

Do you have memories of these and other neighborhood gardens and parks? Share them with us. And if you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail q&a@ajc.com or call 404-222-2002.

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