The Gardens of the Nature Center

The Dunwoody Nature Center is committed to using its gardens and landscaping to demonstrate a love of nature and the development of environmental stewardship. Master Gardeners curate and cultivate all the gardens at the Nature Center. Over the years the Nature Center and its generous supporting friends have developed five significant garden areas that we encourage you to visit.  All these garden areas are built around a broad selection of native plants that support our commitment to sustainability at the Dunwoody Nature Center.

We hope that these displays will encourage visitors to use native plants in their gardens and landscaping.

Roberts Road Entrance Gardens

Entry Plaza Pond Garden

Rain Gardens

Milkweed and Pollinator Garden

Murdoch Pollinator Garden

Fern Glade

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As you come into the Nature Center from Roberts Road you will notice attractive plantings at our driveway entrance area.   These include shrubs such as oak-leaf hydrangea, fothergilla, beautyberry, and bottle-brush buckeyes.  These shrubs are accented by perennials that provide additional color and beauty during the changing seasons from spring to fall.

The Dunwoody Women’s Club has generously provided financial support that enabled our DeKalb Master Gardeners to turn roadside scrub into an attractive and inviting “front door” display.  Like any garden, this area is continuously under revitalization and renewal in order to keep our welcome mat interesting.

 

 

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As you enter the Nature Center, you’ll enjoy a touch of serenity in the city. As part of our 2014 entrance improvement, a beautiful pond was installed in our entry plaza. Water plants, such as papyrus, rustle in the water as they attract small fresh water wildlife and delight the passerby.

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One of the Nature Center’s biggest improvements in recent years is the development of the Rain Garden in our open Meadow area near the main building.  The Meadow had for years been subject to un-controlled run-off from the long driveway and the parking lot.  The meadow also served as a heavily used area for picnics, concerts and a general play area for rambunctious children.  As a result the soil was eroded and compacted and would not support the natural growth of plants.

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Immediately in front of the Nature Center building stands the Pollinator Garden.  The pollinator garden has a healthy stand of milkweed plants along with other pollinator-friendly plants such as goldenrod, bee balm, Joe Pye weed and salvia.  These provide pollen and nectar to bees, butterflies, and insects. This garden and the other pollinator friendly aspects of the Nature Center’s gardens have enabled the Dunwoody Nature Center to be designated a Monarch Way Station by the Monarch Watch organization dedicated to supporting monarch butterflies during their annual migration to and from their winter habitat in Mexico.

 

As many people know, milkweed plants are in decline across the USA, mostly as a result of overuse of chemical weed controls and modern agricultural practices.  The decline in milkweed plants consequently brings a decline in Monarch butterflies which depend solely on native milkweed plants for food and raising their young.  The loss of the beautiful butterflies hurts us all by reducing their important role as pollinators of shrubs, flowers, and perhaps most importantly, our agricultural bounty that feeds us all.

The garden area includes the wisteria arbor off the building entry plaza.  The arbor was generously funded by the Dunwoody Garden Club in 2016.  This arbor supports an American wisteria plant which is both beautiful and very attractive to our buzzing friends.  American wisteria is the native species of wisteria.  While it does climb and spread like its adventuresome Chinese cousin, it is not invasive and does not smother other plants growing near it.

Native azaleas, hydrangeas and ferns complement the Pollinator Garden flowers.  These flowers include beebalm, baptisia, coneflowers, Joe Pye weed, goldenrod, salvia, and verbena.

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Immediately behind the Nature Center building on the woodlands side sits the Murdoch Garden.  In 2014 the young students at Murdoch Elementary School in Cobb County has a series of lessons on plants and pollinators and how they affect our gardens and our agriculture.  After these lessons those students wanted to do something to help pollinators in our area.  Their teacher contacted the Dunwoody Nature Center and we jointly developed a plan for a small pollinator garden.  The students raised money and the DeKalb Master Gardens developed a garden plan and built the Murdoch Garden.

Like the Pollinator Garden in the front of the DNC building this small garden demonstrates what school children can do to have a positive impact on the environment.  This garden contains pollinator-friendly plants, such as hardy sunflower, that are best suited to more shady areas.

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When  you walk between the Dunwoody baseball field and the Nature Center along the wide, shady pathway you cannot help but notice the ferns and shrubs that have been planted to beautify this sun-challenged area.  In addition to the ferns there are also mass plantings of beautyberry sparkleberry and fothergilla.  These plants were provided by and installed by the wonderful Trees Atlanta organization.