HIAWASSEE - Since 1982, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds has operated the Hamilton Rhododendron Garden.
Over the past 30 years, it has become a focal point for the county. To support efforts to raise revenue for improvements to the Garden, the original greenhouses built over 30 years ago and added the new Hamilton Garden Shop have been restored.
Rows of rhododendron, locally grown annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, as well as a variety of greenhouse-grown flowers are for sale with all the profits from their sale going toward the restoration and new garden projects.
The Hamilton Garden is recognized as one of only six public Rhododendron Gardens in the country and received a grant from the American Rhododendron Society this year. The grant is based on a proposal to restore the original greenhouses and to start restoration on the garden.
The goal of the shop is to draw more visitors to the garden area throughout the year while at the same time providing an educational experience. The Garden Shop Manager, Catherine Hansen, and the Garden Curator, Paul Hansen, are available to give visitors an historical walk-through of Fred Hamilton's original quest and to share their knowledge of just what it took to establish this "Jewel in the Mountains." Guided group tours and cart tours are available.
The newly restored Garden Shop and Greenhouse is located near the entrance to the Hamilton Gardens, in the upper parking level of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.
The Shop is open Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00-3:00. It will close for the season at the end of the annual fall festival, October 21.
The Hamilton Garden is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit. For more information on volunteering or donating to the Hamilton Gardens, call the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds at (706) 896-4191 or visit the web site: www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com.