A perfect Spring date: a glimpse at the history behind Georgia Southern’s Botanical Garden

Asya Fields

The Botanical Garden here at Georgia Southern University is more than what meets the eye. The history of what’s formally know by the Statesboro community as The Garden is very extensive and dates back to the 1980’s.

The Garden did not get its start as the current day botanical garden, but as a farm that was donated by Dan and Catherine Bland. The farm was located in the Coastal Plains and was the product of proficient farming and the natural organic process of producing plants, according to the Director Carolyn Altman. 

Their story is a true GSU love story. The historical couple met here at GSU and Dan Bland’s father gave them 60 acres to farm.

The Bland family used completely organic means to produce all types of vegetation in the sandy soil that is produced by the Coastal Plains. The soil is what makes this land so legendary.

“The type of soil we have has big implications for the plants that grow here and the animals that survive here. We celebrate those plants and animals, and the culture of the Coastal Plain,” Carolyn Altman, Director of The Garden of the Coastal Plain said.

Altman began involvement with The Garden after moving to the area from Portland, Oregon just simply to learn about southern living.

“I felt ungrounded,” said Altman when describing her inspirations that led to her interest in The Garden after coming to Georgia.

She started as a volunteer and this led her to learn about the South and how hard working she felt people of the Coastal Plains were.

Altman said she has “really developed a healthy respect for the people of the Coastal Plain and the culture” being in her opinion that it’s not a easy place to grow things and can sometimes be a hard place to live.

Currently anyone can visit the garden. The Garden is something of a landmark for the GSU campus.

“I went to the Botanical garden with my FYE class, and really enjoyed looking at the one-room school because it relates back to my major. I think everyone should go at least once for the experience,” Harmony Wallace, freshman early childhood education major, said.

The Botanical Garden has a lot to offer including activities for kids. Children are able to get involved with the garden by planting their own fruits and vegetables, then getting the benefit of eating what they grow at the end.

The Garden offers a romantic ambiance that young adults can enjoy.

“I went on a date there once. We walked around and looked at trees and such. It’s a very peaceful place,” Grady Newton, freshman undeclared major, said.