The Love Story Behind the Garden of the Coastal Plain

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 In 1916, after many years of courtship, Dan and Catharine Bland were married. As a wedding gift, Dan’s father gave the couple 60 acres of land to begin farming and creating a life for themselves. After the donation, Dan began his ventures as a dynamic farmer and environmentalist. Together, the couple grew plants, corn, pecans, peanuts, cotton and tobacco, among other crops. Dan completed his duties tending to the couple’s farm while Catharine tended to the couple’s chores, chickens, cows and hogs. Catharine stored food in an outside refrigerator, built by her innovative husband, which sat on a block of ice. Oftentimes, the couple’s neighbors would visit their home to buy milk, eggs and meat. In fact, the couple made a business out of selling their products to local farmers and community members.

After years of simplistic Southern living, Catharine Bland passed away in 1980. Dan Bland passed five years after his sweetheart. Before his death, he managed to donate the remaining 6.5 acres of his farm to the Georgia Southern College Foundation for use as a botanical garden. This was the birth of the Georgia Southern Botanical Garden, which opened its gates to the public in 1990. Since its establishment, the Garden has been a community resource by sponsoring educational tours, workshops and festivals.

Today, the flourishing Garden prides itself on preserving the Blands’ traditional values with their initiative to encourage people to be environmentally friendly. Although their mission is promoting sustainability and educating about the native plants and animals of the Coastal Plain, the Garden also aims to connect people to their pasts. Many of the plants Dan planted, like Magnolias and American Hollies, still thrive today. These flowers are a fundamental part of the Garden’s plant collection.

Kathy Tucker, the Garden’s Education Coordinator, has worked at the garden for X years. “I absolutely love what I do. I get to educate people about our past, while experiencing our future expansion,” said Tucker.

An often-overlooked gem, the Garden’s indescribable beauty is the perfect attraction for weddings, special events and a place of relaxation. Its rich pastime makes the garden a historical landmark one would be fortunate to experience.

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