One of the best-kept secrets in Milledgeville is Lockerly Arboretum, a 50-acre property one mile south of our historic downtown. There are a plethora of ways to explore this museum of trees, and you may just find your new favorite escape.
Know before you go: The grounds are free to enter and are open to the public Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The arboretum, a botanical garden of trees, was founded by Mr. Edward Grassman who owned a large Kaolin mining operation in the neighboring town of Sandersville, Georgia, among other investments across the United States. Grassman was interested in experiential horticulture and botanicals rather than an immaculate garden. The Lockerly Arboretum Foundation was created in 1965 in an effort to create a plan for the longevity of the property.
1. Enjoy a Picnic on the Property
Pick a secluded spot on the 50-acres or make use of a table near the pond to enjoy lunch. Appreciate peaceful conversation and watch birds and wildlife while eating lunch. Enjoy take-out from one of Milledgeville’s restaurants or pack your own. Our picnic pick is on a blanket near the pond, which is centrally located on the property, you cannot miss it.
2. Look at the Seasonal Plants
As autumn sets in and many trees and plants begin their winter siesta, Lockerly Arboretum comes alive! The tea olives are beginning to bloom and the grounds will smell delicious. Stroll among the large camellia plants whose buds will be blossoming in pinks, whites and reds later in fall. There is a helpful guide on the Lockerly website that details all of the plant collections as varieties of flowers on the property bloom at different times of the year.
3. Admire Rose Hill
Rose Hill, the prominent home that sits near the front of the property was built in 1853 by Daniel Reece Tucker to replace a wooden structure of the same name that burned in 1852. The home is a good representation of the Greek Revival and Georgian style with its prominent columns, central hallway floorplan, and heavy symmetrical details. The home is not currently open to the public as extensive renovations are occurring within.
4. Stop in the Woods Museum
The Woods Museum, located near the beginning of the trail loop, is a former tenant house on the property just to the right of Rose Hill. The Woods Museum features a reptile exhibit of native and non-native reptiles, an enormous cross-cut slab of a 300-year-old Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress) as well as a comprehensive permanent exhibit showcasing 13 hardwood trees. Reggie the American Alligator who is an indigenous species to Georgia (and has been spotted in the Oconee River in Milledgeville) calls the museum home as well as Teedo, the Ball Python, who is not native to this area of Georgia.
5. Take a Scenic Walk
As temperatures start to drop, outdoor walks become more attractive and the mile loop through the property has excellent scenery with multiple collections of plants identified with markers. The Ann King Native Plant Garden, displaying over 50 species of native shrubs and trees. This collection serves as an education opportunity to explore many key naturally occurring plants in our region. Part of the loop is through a forested area and the trees provide an ample amount of shade.
6. Attend an Event at Lockerly Arboretum
Looking to spend some more time at Lockerly? The foundation hosts a handful of events each year and there are two free occurring this fall. The first is a kids fishing event on Saturday, September 10th from 9:00 am- 1:00 pm where kids 16 and under can fish for catfish stocked in the pond. The next event is the Family Fun Day on Saturday, October 29th, also from 9:00 am- 1:00 pm, and includes hay rides, guided hikes, and more.
7. Look for Native Wildlife
A variety of wildlife calls the Lockerly property home. You will surely see a variety of birds, reptiles and insects that live in the forest. There are also catfish in the pond at the beginning of the main trail, and Koi fish in the Koi pond at the front of Rose Hill that you can catch a glimpse of. You can also see a variety of insects or evidence of them. The end of summer is the best time to find empty unique cicada shells in the forest that have been left behind.
8. Bring Your Furry Friend
Your favorite furry friend is also welcome at Lockerly on a hike through the beautiful shady woods. Your dog will be busy sniffing all of their flowering shrubs such as camellias and azaleas, and a variety of trees including oaks, magnolias and an expansive Pinetum collection hosting a range of plants from the common Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) to ornamental conifers like the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). This collection offers a year-round worldly display of color and diversity. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash and clean up as though you were never there.
9. Find a Quiet Study Spot
Studying in downtown Milledgeville on campus is always a top-tier choice, but getting off campus and into the community may incite new ideas. Lockerly has picnic tables where you can spread out your study materials or multiple open grassy spaces where you can lay a blanket down and study or read with a beautiful background.