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

Plant List

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




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
From Georgia 400, take the Old Milton Parkway exit and head west. The name of the road  changes to Rucker Road in about two miles.  Almost four miles from leaving 400, the new entrance to the park is opposite the Old Station subdivision on Rucker Road. The nearest mailbox address is 910 Rucker Road. Old Rucker Road has been barricaded at the west end of the new park.

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