Native Azaleas - Rododendrom

History of Woodlands Garden

Woodlands began as the home place of the Morse family in 1946. Chester and Gene Morse settled on a wooded plot of land near where Clairemont Avenue crossed a dirt track called Scott Boulevard. Gradually, the Morses added land to bring their property to 7.1 acres and named it "Woodlands." Much was left natural, while around their home the family created a charming cultivated garden.

Over time Decatur grew to become the most densely developed city in Georgia, while the Morse family increased to include four children and 13 grandchildren. Developers made large offers to buy the land, which could be carved into nearly 50 home sites under city zoning laws-but the Morses had a different vision.

In 2002, the family gave Woodlands to the Decatur Preservation Alliance (DPA) to become a permanently protected green space for future generations to enjoy. DPA shepherded Woodlands until 2011, when the Garden was ready to stand on its own.


Preserving Woodlands

The DPA hired landscape architects Edward Daugherty and Lynn Saussy to draw up a master plan for the property, with the goal of preserving Woodlands as an urban sanctuary for educating and engaging the community in the natural world. In 2006, planning began for a demonstration garden within Woodlands, which will be unique in the southeast as a showcase of native plants found in the upper Georgia Piedmont ecosystem. Under the leadership of the Woodlands Garden Manager, volunteers are maintaining and implementing the planting plan for Woodlands.

Today within Woodlands, areas that were once terraced for farming are returning to a more natural state. Trees of more than 30 species tower overhead, including 100-year-old oaks and magnificent poplars.

Dr. and Mrs. Morse fought a successful battle against the rambling honeysuckle plant for half a century and volunteers have followed in their footsteps - allowing delicate native wildflowers to take their place again, blooming on the sunny slopes and creek banks deep in these woods.