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Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

The Beauty of Hamilton Gardens

Jul 28, 2016 04:30PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Hamilton Gardens. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Gardens website.

Quietly tucked away in the North Georgia Mountains, sits a rare and special treasure. A botanical paradise fairly bursting with dogwood, tulip magnolias, native azaleas, wild flowers, trillium, and rhododendron. Over 400 varieties of rhododendron – 3,000 plants in all. Welcome to the Hamilton Gardens, a truly enchanted spot, boasting the largest collection of rhododendrons in the state of Georgia. Stoll tranquil pine bark trails as they wind through lush foliage. Drink in the stunning views of Lake Chatuge and breathtaking countryside, including the majestic rise of Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest peak

In the early 1950s, Fred Hamilton, an executive of the Sears Roebuck Company, bought a home in the Atlanta area and was delighted to discover native plants, including rhododendrons and azaleas, on the site. He and his wife Hazel later purchased a place in Towns County near the "Hog Creek" community. There, they found more rhododendrons and other wild native plants. This sparked their interest in creating a lush garden where they brought many other varieties of rhododendron from all over the world. The Hamiltons were happy to share the beauty of their gardens with others and invited visitors to tour the grounds.

Photo courtesy of the
Hamilton Gardens At Lake Chatuge
Facebook page.

As time went by and the gardens grew, caretakers were needed to help maintain them. Mr. Hamilton began to realize that he could no longer care for the gardens as he once did. He searched for a place to donate his extensive collection of rhododendrons, where the conditions were right and the soil conducive to their growth. Tests were done and a compatible soil was discovered at the grounds of the Georgia Mountain Fair. In 1982, Mr. Hamilton generously donated his collection to the Fair, and they were transplanted in an area where they could be cared for an appreciated by thousands of visitors yearly. 

While every day is a special event in the Hamilton Gardens, peak viewing season usually occurs the last two weeks in April through the first two weeks in May. The Gardens are open year around. The Fair maintains the plants and the gentle walking trails throughout the garden. Plant enthusiasts will find a selection of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants available for purchase at the gardens during the peak season.

The gardens are open daily from 9 AM until sundown with no admission fee for 2016 and guided walking tours and shuttle tours are also available by appointment for a fee.

Come enjoy the beautiful gardens this year! 

The Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge Inc., is a non-profit organization.

Contact 706-896-4191 or visit for more information.

Content courtesy of

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