Old Rucker Road Park Wildlife Habitat Garden
Alpharetta’s Wild Side Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden in Old Rucker Farm & Park was created in 2018 to complement the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission’s initiative to achieve National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Certification. The city is the nation’s 105th Certified Community Wildlife Habitat but continues to advocate the creation of wildlife habitats in homeowners’ yards, an effort that noted author Doug Tallamy touts as a vital new approach to conservation in his recent book Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard (Portland, Ore.: Timber Press, 2019).
In addition, the garden complements the various facets of the Alpharetta Community Agriculture Program located in Old Rucker Farm & Park, including the donation farm and community gardens, thereby demonstrating the relationship between native plants and the pollinators they attract that are crucial to the creation of 35% of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in our food supply.
A group of volunteers prepared the 240-square-foot site in the spring of 2018 and planted nearly 100 native plants in the fall. Almost all of the 15 species of plants installed in the garden bloomed during its first year, allowing us to use the garden for a variety of educational purposes, including participation in the 2019 Great Georgia Pollinator Census, in which we also participated in 2020 and 2021.
As a number of the wildflowers have succumbed to drought and other environmental conditions, we’ve added several new species, including Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’ and Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis). (Note: The original planting guide has not been updated to include these new flowers.)
Alpharetta’s Wild Side Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden is a joint undertaking of the Georgia Native Plant Society, Georgia Audubon and the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission, in partnership with the City of Alpharetta Recreation, Parks & Cultural Services department. — Richard Lebovitz
Tree & Shrubs
Amelanchier arborea Downy Serviceberry
Callicarpa americana Beautyberry
Ilex decidua Possumhaw Holly
Amsonia tabernaemontana Eastern Bluestar
Salvia lyrata Lyreleaf Sage
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower
Penstemon australis Southern Beardtongue
Penstemon digitalis Foxglove Beardtongue
Coreopsis major Whorled Coreopsis
Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly Weed
Stokesia laevis Stokes’ Aster
Monarda fistulosa Bee Balm (Wild Bergamot)
Solidago nemoralis Gray Goldenrod
Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’ Garden Phlox ‘Jeana’
Solidago odora Sweet Goldenrod
Eutrochium fistulosum Hollow Joe Pye Weed
Rudbeckia fulgida Black-eyed Susan
Symphyotrichum georgianum Georgia Aster
- Alpharetta Community Agriculture Program https://alpharetta-community-agriculture-program.square.site/
- Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission https://www.alpharetta.ga.us/government/departments/public-works/natural-resources-commission
- Alpharetta Recreation, Parks & Cultural Services https://www.alpharetta.ga.us/government/departments/recreation-parks
- Alpharetta’s Wild Side https://www.alpharetta.ga.us/government/departments/public-works/natural-resources-commission/alpharettas-wild-side
- Chafin, Linda G. Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States. Athens, Ga.: The University of Georgia Press, 2016.
- Holm, Heather. Pollinators of Native Bees. Minnetonka, Minn.: Pollination Press LLC, 2014
- Illinois Wildflowers. http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/index.htm
- National Wildlife Federation Native Plant Finder. https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder
- Native Plants for Georgia Part I: Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines. Bulletin 987. Published with Full Review on Aug. 7, 2017.
- Native Plants for Georgia, Part III: Wildflowers. UGA Extension Bulletin 987-3, December 2014.
- Wagner, David L. Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.
- Tallamy, Doug. Nature’s Best Hope https://www.timberpress.com/authors/douglas-w-tallamy
This project includes the creation of a 225-250 square foot Demonstration Wildlife Habitat Garden within a new “passive” neighborhood park created on the site of a former commercial nursery off Old Rucker Road in Alpharetta. The garden will be located near the entrance to the 10+ acre park in a sunny area adjacent to a city-operated 1.5-acre educational farm donated by Whole Foods, using the assets of the former Whole Kids Educational Farm. Amanda Musilli, former director of the Whole Kids Educational Farm, will continue her directorial role for the farm in her new position as Community Services Manager, Alpharetta Recreation and Parks. We have been working closely with Amanda through the proposal process for this garden and have her support as well as that of Morgan Rogers, Director, Alpharetta Recreation and Parks, in the creation of the garden.
The project complements Alpharetta’s Wild Side, an initiative of the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission to achieve Community Wildlife Certification by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). The city is the nation’s 105th Certified Community Wildlife Habitat but continues to advocate the creation of wildlife habitats in homeowners’ yards. The project is a joint undertaking of the Georgia Native Plant Society, Atlanta Audubon Society, and the Alpharetta Natural Resources Commission, with approval of Alpharetta Parks & Recreation.
Nikki Belmonte, executive director of Atlanta Audubon, a GNPS member and Alpharetta resident, has worked with GNPS on other wildlife habitat projects and has pledged her organization’s support for this project as well. GNPS member Lauren Orem, a horticulturist and landscape designer whose business Be Natural Gardens LLC specializes in developing certified pollinator gardens and wildlife habitats, has developed a planting guide for the site, with input on appropriate native trees, shrubs and forbs from GNPS members and the Atlanta Audubon Society. Andrew White, Director of Park Visioning for Park Pride, and Melina Lozano Durán, Pollinator Restoration Coordinator, Department of Conservation and Research, Atlanta Botanical Garden, were both generous in sharing their experiences developing similar but smaller pollinator gardens in five neighborhood parks in metro Atlanta. GNPS members sharing their native plant experience and advising on the project include Ellen Honeycutt, Marcia Winchester, Sheri George, Elaine Nash, Karen McCaustland, Connie Ghosh and Susan Hanson. Other native plant experts offering advice on the project include Walter Bland (Rock Spring Restorations), Jim Rodgers (Nearly Native Nursery), and Jeff Killingsworth (Beech Hollow Wildflower Farm).
Driving Directions To Wildlife Habitat Garden
News & Events
The Georgia Native Plant Society has been invited to participate in the Community Food Forum for Alpharetta residents at Old Rucker Park & Farm on Saturday, December 4, 10-11:30 a.m. Members of the new North Metro Chapter will serve as docents to provide native...
The first workday for this new project at 860 Old Rucker Road in Alpharetta is Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. to noon. The City of Alpharetta is donating topsoil and wood chip mulch for the site. Preparation will involve removing the grass,...