Superstition Mountains at sunset, from Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona


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"The ideal starting point for a tour of the Gardens is also a beautiful tribute to   
the memory of co-founder Virginia Hand Callaway . . . [who] was
passionate about connecting man with the natural world."
~ Callaway Gardens website
Continued from the previous page.


Continuing clockwise around large Mountain Creek Lake, the impressive Discovery Center is located along the main park road across from the Azalea Bowl featured in the last entry.

These illustrated map sections are from Callaway Gardens' website:


White lines = roadways, yellow = foot paths, red = bike paths

This handsome multi-purpose facility contains a main lobby with an information desk and interactive kiosks, a small theater that plays a continuous video about the Gardens, a gift shop, an auditorium, an exhibit hall, and an education wing:


Although visitors' pets are allowed in the gardens and on the trails they aren't allowed inside the buildings at Callaway Gardens -- only official service dogs can go inside.

On our first visit to Callaway Gardens Jim stayed outside the Discovery Center with Casey and Holly while I went inside to look around for a few minutes. He took this picture of them on one of the benches outside the building. He had just told them, "There's Mama!" so they were looking for me:

Then I watched the girls while Jim went inside. We both made pretty quick trips through the building that day.

The next day, when I went to the Gardens alone, I spent a lot more time inside the Discovery Center and "discovered" quite a bit more to see. When we went back in April with out-of-state visitors I showed Jim some of the things he didn't notice on his first trip.


Above and below:  scenic lake view from inside the Discovery Center


The corridor in the distance leads to the education wing; detailed metal
wildflower sculptures are displayed along the wall on the left.

One of the rooms in the education wing has Touch & Learn displays of mammals who live here.

Another long wing houses an exhibit hall, which currently has nature artwork on display.

You can see more of the detailed wildflower sculptures on this wing.

In addition to the beautiful interior of this building and the lovely views of the lake and landscaping on the outside, what intrigued me the most about the Discovery Center were the two dozen or so amazingly detailed metal wildflower sculptures on display that were created by an artist named Trailer McQuilkin, who lives in Mississippi.

Many of the plants are rare and/or endangered. This is a Plumleaf azalea, which is more common:

My apologies for the glare and reflections on the Plexiglas;
I should have used a different setting on my camera.

I photographed this explanation of how Mr. McQuilkin produces these realistic pieces, which are displayed in Plexiglas cases on handsome wooden pedestals:

This display shows some of the tools and materials he uses:

There is more to see and do outside the Discovery Center, too -- a wildlife habitat garden, a cafe, and an amphitheater where the popular free-flight birds of prey shows are conducted:


Interior of the Discovery Cafe

A colorful native azalea near the Discovery Cafe


From the Discovery Center you can either walk or drive about half a mile to the Pioneer Log Cabin, Wildflower Trail, and Holly Trail, which are featured on the next page.

I highlighted the route I drove in light orange on this map section:

Continued on the next page:  pioneer log cabin and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Trail

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, and Holly-Pup

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2019 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil