Have you ever had the privilege of visiting the Callaway Gardens Azalea Bowl Garden? Established in 1952, Callaway Gardens is owned and operated by the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, a non-profit with the environmental mission of conservation, education, and land stewardship. The gardens are comprised of 2,500 acres of land in Pine Mountain, Georgia. There’s also a resort on the property, but as a local, I’ve never stayed there. There are countless activities for individuals as well as families. Some of note are the Butterfly Center, Robin Lake, Tree Top Adventures, Golf, Fishing, and Biking. There is an active year-round calendar of special events such as the Hot Air Balloon Festival, Symphony On The Beach, and Fantasy In Lights. One such event that I recently visited was their annual Azalea Watch in the gardens.
From early March to mid April, visitors flock to the Overlook Garden and the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl Garden to witness the massive explosion of azalea blooms. While it’s such a small window of time, I knew I needed to make a point of taking the boys this year. Depending on what bloom you want to catch you can plan your trip accordingly: early bloomers (early to mid-March), peak bloomers (mid-March to early April), and late bloomers (early to mid-April). We lucked out and caught the full peak bloomers.
We drove through the outskirts of the Overlook Garden, and for a Monday afternoon it was fairly active. It’s a great spot to bring a picnic lunch, as there’s a huge covered area with picnic tables at the top. I’ve shared some pictures on my Instagram account of this area before. Even when not in bloom, you’ll want to stroll the green garden paths and lose yourself in thought. Well, maybe if you don’t have three boys with you, but they love running around and exploring.
Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl Garden
The next area we drove to is the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl Garden. It’s located not far from the Chapel, which is another great little nook the boys love to visit. There is ample parking right outside the gates of the main entrance to the Azalea Bowl. There, an iron gate precedes a massive pergola that is flanked by a grassy area with mass annual plantings. The path through the pergola leads you on a winding paved path that opens to a lake surrounded by a blanket of azaleas.
The azalea bloom really is a sight to behold. There are over 4,000 azaleas and 700 varieties of native and hybrid azaleas in the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl. Colors ranging from whites to pinks to intense reds flow seamlessly at the base of established tree plantings. There are benches nestled about so you can always sit and rest up, or just take it all in. One resting spot features a gazebo flanked with potted annuals that Broughton insisted I take his picture next to. When I normally have to beg for pictures, I wasn’t turning down the chance to snag a few. The boys also enjoyed walking across the arched bridge and looking for turtles from above the water.
After leaving the Azalea Bowl, we hopped in the car and drove a short distance to the Butterfly Center. The boys always enjoy a walk-through in hopes that a butterfly will land on them. That seldom happens, because they can never sit or stand still. Where can I buy their energy?
No trip to Callaway’s is complete without a stop at Robin Lake Beach. There they like to build sandcastles and dip their toes in the water. We always stay longer than planned, but we were tired from a long afternoon of fun and packed up to head home.
If you’ve never been to visit Callaway Gardens, you are definitely missing out. I hope you enjoyed reading about our little visit through the azalea gardens in bloom. If you are able to visit I would love to hear all about your trip!