Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Callaway Gardens (Part I): Azalea Bowl

Callaway Gardens was created for the purposes of protecting an endangered shrub, the azalea (plumleaf azalea 'Rhododendron prunifolium'). Today it is the largest azalea garden in the world encompassing 14,000 acres which includes walking paths, lakes, woodlands and flower trails. It was transformed into a place of beauty and relaxation from barren cotton fields in 1952.

The Azalea Bowl is a 40 acre garden within Callaway which is home to more than 3,400 hybrid and native azaleas. In spring each year it explodes into color.

It is a spectacular display of various shades of pink, purple, white, red and orange. Following are a series of photographs taken this past week. Unfortunately, the azaleas were not all marked so I am unable to provide the names of each of the azalea shrubs I photographed. I hope you will enjoy them for their blooms and color as much as I did.

In addition to the many azaleas there is an impressive 2,000 trees and shrubs that provide interesting foliage during the rest of the year when the azaleas are not blooming.

I would have never thought of combining the red leaves of the lace leaf maple with the pink azalea blooms but it works and actually made the leaves of the maple more pinkish looking.


"Every child ought to see something beautiful before he's six years old
—something he will remember all his life."
Carson Callaway

I hope you enjoyed this show of color. I will be posting more about my trip to the gardens. Next will be an education on a common fruit in the Horticulture Center.


  1. I have definitely enjoyed your show of colors and flowers. They are all beautiful shots. I love the landscape in the first one.

  2. Callaway is a really special place and your images do it justice. I would love to see the azaleas in bloom, just magical.

  3. This is a paradise, I would love to live there in the middle of some many bright colors, What a treat for the eyes!

  4. I have always loved the pictures of southern woods with azaleas blooming among the trees....I have tried it here but azaleas just do not like my garden...but I keep trying for a few...just gorgeous pictures

  5. I have lived in Georgia for 11 years and have yet to make a trip to Calloway Gardens! I have tried several springs but something always seems to get into the way. The closest thing I have seen is the Augusta National Golf course with hundreds of azaleas. One day, we will get to Calloway….

  6. I love that photo of the very bright green tree. Any idea what it is? It's got a very loose leaf structure, obviously letting lots of filtered light in and a great shape. Just beautiful.

  7. You captured the azaleas at Callaway Gardens very well, a great represetation.

    Will you be going to the Dogwood Festival in Atlanta mid-April?

  8. Oops, typo. I retyped this comment three times before blogger recognized me. Sorry. Great Representation!

  9. Love this post. I have been to Callaway Gardens! Your post brings a deluge of beautiful memories. We were there in the summer of 1980 with three little children ages 5, 3 and 8 months. We rented bicycles with child carriers and placed the baby in a back pack, and spent the entire day riding throughout the gardens. It was magical. I must make one correction to your post. Calloway's first name is actually Cason rather than Carson. I know this because we promised each other that if we had another little boy join our family, we would name him Cason to remind us of the beautiful day we spent in those amazing gardens. And two years later we did... Cason is now a Daddy of his own little children, but he is often asked how he got his name. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Your pics are almost as grand as being there.

  10. One of these years, I'd love to visit that garden. I'm just always so busy this time of year and it's hard to get away during peak azalea bloom. Someday...
    Thanks for sharing the beauty in pics till I can visit in person :-)

  11. The work is all Stuart's. He is the Blotanical webmaster. Your problem with logging in - have you tried a different browser? I use Google Chrome, and Blotanical is NOT too fond of that one.

  12. Stunning. When I joined blotanical and was asked the question "What garden would I like to visit" I wasn't sure what to reply, but know I do...

  13. Wonderful photographs - thank you for sharing. Now I see what my Azaleas *should* look like :) (not even close - I have a long way to go ...)

  14. Thank you all for your lovely comments!

    One, the first photo was taken from the bridge over the water shown in the photo which leads to a large lake. It was a beautiful place to view all the color!

    GWGT, "magical" is the perfect word to describe walking amongst the blooming azaleas.

    Lula, it is certainly eye candy to kick off spring!

    Donna, azaleas love our acidic soil here in the Southeast. Oddly, I have a difficult time growing rhododendrons in my garden (and they are the same family)?!

    Skeeter, you must make it to Callaway one of these days it is definitely worth the drive. Augusta is gorgeous too. My husband watched the tournament for the golf and I watch for the azaleas!

    Marguerite, the bright green trees are all Japanese maples. They were absolutely stunning. I have never walked under so many of them in my life. I had a canopy over my head with filtered light coming through the leaves. I wish I could show a better picture but it was a little windy and hard to get a good shot.

    NellJean, I would love to go but that is a super busy weekend for me with kids baseball games and my daughter is chairing the annual plant sale/fundraiser for Clemson's horticulture department and I have to go support her. Are you going?

    Carolyn, thanks for the correction...big typo on my part (I should know better to check name spellings!) I love your story! What special memories. Since you were last there they have added some things that I will be blogging about. I hope you will come back to see!

    Toni-totally understand! Sometimes I forget to breathe in spring there is so much going on! You will make it one of these days!

    Elephant's Eye, thanks for the information. I use Goggle too so that must be the problem.

    b_a_g, it is a stunning place and worth the visit. I will be blogging about a few more things to see at the gardens so stay tuned!

    theGardeningBlog, ha! the problem with public gardens is that they have an army of grounds people who maintain the plants properly, weed and water. Wouldn't that be a dream in our gardens?!

  15. OMG, what a treat! 14,000 acres, and 40 acres devoted to Azaleas! I can only imagine how lovely that must be. Thanks for the tour!

  16. The azaleas weren't blooming when we stopped by Calloway Gardens earlier in the year. Thanks for giving me a peek at the spectacular display we missed. Your photos are a wonderful tour!

  17. They are so gorgeous in their forms and colours! Love the pink with white, purple and all white!

  18. Wow! Stunning photos that make me feel pretty raw about just pointing my iPhone and clicking.
    Hmmmm - must try harder.

  19. Absolutely gorgeous--I would love to be able to visit this paradise this time of year.

  20. What very beautiful photos, love the top one, exceptional.

  21. Your picture of the azaleas in the Callaway Gardens is very good, a great representative. I always enjoy the pictures South Woods, azaleas bloom in the woods. Particularly I like the first landscape.


  22. Azaleas are favorites of mine, and your photos are gorgeous. You've inspired me - both to plan a visit to Callaway Gardens, and to start saving for a better camera!

  23. OH MY GOODNESS KARIN! I have been SO busy with so many other things I haven't had time to check with my blog buddies. This is amazing and I will have to go through and read each post! These photos are incredible! I just love the azaleas. I found some down in the woods here yesterday, but no camera and not sure if I'll be going back down there! TOO BUGGY NOW!! hahaha! I can't wait to read on! Thanks for this great tour!

  24. hi karin, i'm just discovering your blog -i'm glad to meet another blogging gardener from the south! i've wanted to see calloway for quite some time. didn't know that about the plumleaf azalea. i have had one of those in my garden for a couple of years but the deer love it too much...i still haven't had any blooms! your photos are wonderful.


"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!