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MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia. (41NBC/WMGT) – Middle Georgia is home to many museums and natural surroundings, but one location in Baldwin County combines them both.
Tucked away in a line of trees lies Milledgeville’s own tree museum.
Lockerly Arboretum features 50 acres of gardens, walking trails, a pond and a home that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rose Hill was built by a local judge in 1852. It is an intact example of greek revival architecture.
The home and 20 acres of surrounding property was later purchased by E.J. Grassman, a man from New Jersey who owned kaolin companies and needed a retreat for his corporate executives.
Grassman was not only a businessman but also an amateur horticulturist.
Jennifer Pollard, Executive Director of Lockerly Arboretum says Grassman traveled the world for business and “would take clippings of interesting plants that he would find and he would bring them back to [Lockerly] and plant them.”
Lockerly now has thousands of different species of trees around the property.
Pollard mentions that while many plants in the garden are labeled, all of them will be labeled in a few years.
When Grassman passed away in the early 1970’s, he left behind instructions and funds in his will to create Lockerly Arboretum.
The arboretum also features a four acre conifer garden, an azalea and viburnum collection as well as a camellia collection – making Lockerly a stop on the Georgia Camellia Trail.
Inside the Woods Museum, there are many educational displays to teach visitors more about horticulture practices.
Lockerly Arboretum serves the community as a public garden, and the community serves the arboretum. Aside from four full-time employees who work at Lockerly, the grounds are also maintained by a few college students and local volunteers.
Pollard notes that “Mr. Grassman loved Milledgeville and Baldwin county, and he wanted Lockerly to be a gift to this community that he loved.” In honor of Grassman’s gift to the town, the arboretum remains free and open to the public.
There is a three dollar fee for a self guided tour of Rose Hill, but access to the gardens is completely free of charge.
On September 8, the arboretum will host its signature fundraising event: Lockerly Under the Stars. There will be dinner and dancing on the central meadow and what Pollard calls the “best silent auction in town.”