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Where delightful gardens bloom in metro Atlanta and beyond

This city has one of the most beautiful horticultural gems in the country, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, but there are many other places where the flowers grow in the metro area and across the state.

Here are a few of the garden spots worth visiting this summer and throughout the blooming year:

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Gainesville location features a visitor center, shown here, a model train garden and an amphitheater. It also includes a conservation nursery where endangered plants are propagated. CONTRIBUTED BY ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Gainesville Botanical Garden

The Gainesville branch of the Atlanta Botanical Garden opened in 2015. At 168 acres, it’s more than five times the size of the Atlanta location, and has amenities beyond its big-city cousin’s, including a 2,000-seat amphitheater and a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse.

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Some of the remarkable living sculptures of the “Imaginary Worlds” installation, which opened in Atlanta last month, are also on exhibit at Gainesville, including a mammoth ogre, pandas and a trio of frogs.

Through October, the garden is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. $8; children ages 3-12, $5; children younger than 3, free. 1911 Sweetbay Drive, Gainesville, Ga. 404-888-4760, atlantabg.org/visit/gainesville.

State Botanical Gardens of Georgia, at the University of Georgia

This 313-acre preserve set aside by the University of Georgia in 1968 for the study and enjoyment of plants and nature is located 3 miles south of campus.

Bordering the Middle Oconee River, it boasts 5 miles of trails, a hummingbird trail, a conservatory, an herb and physic garden, performances at an outdoor theater and other delights.

Open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week; except for the Gift Shop, Visitor Center and Cafe Botanica, which are closed Mondays. Free. 2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens. 706-542-1244, botgarden.uga.edu.

At Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, an official American Daffodil Society Display Garden, more than 20 million daffodils bloom in the spring. CONTRIBUTED BY GIBBS GARDENS (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Gibbs Gardens

This Eden in North Georgia shows off more than 20 million daffodils in the spring. Created by Jim Gibbs, president and founder of Gibbs Landscape Co., it covers 220 acres and shows off  24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings, 19 waterfalls and 16 gardens, including a Japanese garden and a water lily garden.

Gibbs Gardens presents Twilight Live concerts on Saturdays and an arts festival in the fall.

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; entry gate closes at 4 p.m. $20; ages 65 and older, $18; ages 3-17, $10; ages 2 and younger, free. 1987 Gibbs Drive, Ball Ground. 770-893-1881, gibbsgardens.com.

More than 1,000 butterflies live inside the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. CONTRIBUTED BY CALLAWAY GARDENS (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Callaway Gardens

The granddaddy of Georgia gardens, Callaway is also a super-resort, with golf, boating, fishing, water sports, a lodge, a spa and bike trails.

But its 2,500 acres most famously contain fabulous gardens, including a butterfly garden.

Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. $24.95; children ages 6-12, $14.95; 65 and older, $21.95; children 5 and younger, free. 17617 U.S. 27, Pine Mountain. The gardens entrance is located just south of 17800 U.S. 27, Pine Mountain. 1-844-512-3826, callawaygardens.com.

Related: Garden clubs: a serious force in Georgia

GSU Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden

This modest 4-acre garden is on the Decatur campus of Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. It includes more than 4,000 species of native, rare and endangered plants indigenous to the Southeast and to the U.S. The garden has bog plants, native trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, and perennial plants.

Funds to support the garden are generated by its regular plant sales: The next will be 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 29-30. The garden is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Free. 3251 Panthersville Road, Decatur. sites.gsu.edu/pcnativegarden/.

Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens 

The campus at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, rich with trees and shrubs, was designated the Waddell Barnes Botanical Garden in 2003, after Barnes, a supporter of what was then Macon State College, helped transform the campus into a showcase. In 2008, a storm leveled trees and destroyed much of the garden, but a rebuilding effort restored the garden’s beauty.

It showcases 17 themed gardens, including Southern Traditional, Fruit Trees, Shrubs and Vines, Medicinal, Natives, Showy Fruit, Showy Flowers, Fragrant, Wet Environment, Touch and Feel, Fall Colors, European, Asian, Urban Environment, Industry and Xeriscape.

Open daily dawn to dusk. Free. 100 University Parkway, Macon. 478-471-2700, mga.edu/botanical-gardens/.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens

There are 3,000 species of plants and 31 sculptures in the 16-acre Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw.

Among the exhibits planned for the garden this summer is a display of outdoor play structures, designed and built by area students and professionals, called TreeMendous Playhouses, which will be open June 30-Sept. 1.

Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; last entry is at 3:15 p.m. $7; ages 60 and older, military and students, $6; children ages 6-12, $5; children ages 5 and younger, free. 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw. 770-919-0248, smithgilbertgardens.com.

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