The seasonal gardens in the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden will feature sunflowers, zucchini and other eye-catching plants. But look closer to learn more.

Below the garden beds is an underground cavern filled with colorful, interactive panels created in partnership with students from the Lamar Dodd School of Art.

The interchangeable, see-through panels introduce visitors to Georgia’s agricultural industry, soil science, the nitrogen cycle and composting. Through windows, the root systems of the plants above are visible.

Brandon Dudley, Amy Gunby and Kristina Mundt presented panel designs at the children’s garden.

“This just makes the future more realistic by getting to see what it’s like working with a client,” said Brandon Dudley, a fourth-year undergraduate studying graphic design in the School of Art. “Seeing things in the actual site makes everything more tangible.”

The students are part of an environmental graphic design course taught by Cameron Berglund, a landscape designer at Koons Environmental Design Inc., the design firm currently developing the children’s garden. The team at Koons is responsible for making the children’s garden a whimsical  journey through misting mushrooms, ancient fossils, water features and a towering treehouse.

“The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is one of my favorite places,” said Berglund, who as part of the design team, help to develop many of the initial concepts for the children’s garden. “In creating the concepts, we really wanted to make this a statewide experience and tell people all the stories we could about Georgia, from the granite in Elbert County, to chestnut trees that have been lost from our forests, to the fossils of creatures that roamed prehistoric Georgia eons ago.”

The UGA students’ designs include interactive elements, fun illustrations and colorful palettes. Visitors can seek and find different stages of plant life and discover which composting materials make cartoon worms happy or mad.

“Our series of panels were on growing and processing peanuts, so we had to learn a lot about them, then we put that information in a kid-friendly format,” said Tyler Duhon, a senior graphic design student.  “Having an outside view helped us learn more, too.”

Tyler Duhon and Meg Pruitt presented interpretive signage on peanut butter production.

Meg Pruitt, a junior graphic design major, said being a part of the process makes her excited about visiting the completed garden.

“I feel more invested in the project,” Pruitt said.

Getting people excited to learn is the goal.

“The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is a great place to play, but also a place to learn and come back to again and again,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “Specifically, these panels will be incorporated into interpretive signage and used to help future visitors, field trips and summer camps realize the importance of healthy soil.”

 

Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-583-0964

Contact: Jenny Cruse-Sanders, crusesanders@uga.edu, 706-542-6131

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery