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FORT VALLEY, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – In the quiet countryside of Fort Valley, lies a nine-acre garden home to a wide variety of flowers.
Massee Lane Gardens is known for its camellias, with over 1,000 varieties of camellias found in the historic gardens.
The garden dates back almost 80 years, to the 1930’s when David C. Strother started planting camellias on the private grounds.
In 1966, Strother donated the land to the American Camellia Society.
Massee Lane Gardens serves as the headquarters of the American Camellia Society – a non-profit corporation that promotes scientific research, preservation and hybridization of camellias.
Camellias bloom starting in September and continue to show their color during the winter and early spring.
One common misconception about camellias is that they require shade. Camille Biebly, multimedia specialist at Massee Lane Gardens, says that’s not true: “We have a trial garden where every species of camellia is represented and They’re out there in the bright Georgia sun, in this heat and not one of them have died from sun exposure.”
Though camellias are more dormant during the summer months, Massee Lane Gardens has many other flowers in bloom.
One of the more colorful gardens this time of year is the rose garden. It features shrub roses, tea roses, polyantha roses and 150 other drought-tolerant roses.
The gazebo offers a shady spot to relax and enjoy a 360 degree view of the surrounding roses and blossoming hydrangeas nearby.
Massee Lane Gardens also features a Japanese garden – a serene spot for relaxation and meditation. Koi fish fill the lily-padded pond as water streams down stacked rocks. Shade is provided by Japanese maple trees and a place to sit under a small hut.
Other gardens include a daylily garden, children’s garden with a natural maze, and an environmental garden with native species.
Masssee Lane Gardens is also home to the largest Boehm porcelain sculpture exhibit on display in the whole United States.
“Edward Marshall Boehm was the premiere sculptor in porcelain and he specialized in nature things,” said Biebly.
The porcelain sculptures represent some of the plants and wildlife you can also see in the gardens like orchids, owls, egrets and woodpeckers.
Massee Lane Gardens is the premiere stop on the American Camellia Trail, which showcases public botanical gardens with significant camellia collections.
This year, the gardens have also been added to the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail after a local girl-scout group helped plant and work on the new butterfly garden.
Blooming flowers, fluttering butterflies and active wildlife provide a picturesque scene for visitors.
Discover Middle Georgia by planning your own visit to Massee Lane Gardens today!