March 19, 2013 – Calloway Gardens

One of the reasons we’d originally decided to come though the Pine Mountain area was its proximity to Callaway Gardens.   Originally conceived in the 1930s after Cason J. Callaway discovered a rare azalea growing in the area, what had once been barren, eroded agricultural fields has been transformed into a 13,000 acre, diverse and beautiful combination of open-space and wooded gardens, a nature preserve, refuge for injured raptors, botanical flower gardens and recreational destination.

 

Callaway Gardens opened on May 21, 1952 as the Ida Cason Gardens, with a number of lakes, a golf course, and scenic drives. The gardens were named for the mother of founder Cason J. Callaway. Robin Lake Beach and the Overlook Azalea Garden opened the following year in 1953.  In 1955, the gardens were renamed Ida Cason Callaway Gardens.

Our arrival timing was propitious as the “Birds of Prey” show was just about to start. It proved very informative and fun to watch as the birds swooped low over heads of the audience.

Horned Owl

Will eat almost anything and can be found in many climates

 

 Red Tail Hawk

Eats mainly mammals

 

Barred Owl

Found around riparian areas and eats mainly fish and animals living around lakes and ponds

From there we walked through wooded trails to the Butterfly Center,

 

where over 1,000 tropical butterflies from more than 50 countries flutter freely among a lush rainforest environment maintained in a glass-enclosed conservatory.  Unfortunately, we have no idea of the actual identities of the many butterflies we saw and photographed.  However, they were an incredible sight.  Just a few …

By the time we left, we’d made some new friends.

 

 A half-mile walk through the woods next took us past an old pioneer cabin (circa 1830) which had been constructed of hand-hewn yellow pine.

Our next stop was at the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel.

 

Set among peaceful woodlands on the shore of Falls Creek Lake,

 

 this Gothic-style, non-denominational chapel was constructed as a tribute to Cason Callaway’s mother of fieldstone quartz and features a stone altar and spectacular stain-glass windows depicting

the area hardwoods behind the altar

regional pines at the rear of the church

and the four seasons along the side.

The sunlight also painted a beautiful pattern on the slate floor of the chapel.

In the nearby stream, we saw a Great Blue Heron … not generally unusual.  However, we’d never seen one scratching its self before.

 

After lunch we went to the Horticultural Center

and hundreds more!

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