Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly feeding on Miss Huff lantana flowers in our yard


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"Escape the everyday all year long. Callaway Resort & Gardens offers four seasons of   
adventure, relaxation, and fun in Mother Nature's breath-taking landscape.
Take in the vibrant blossoms of Spring on over 2,500 spectacular acres, 
filled with hiking and bike trails and world-class golf . . ."
~ Callaway Gardens home page
After receiving an enticing e-newsletter from Callaway Gardens this morning that showed live cams of the azaleas starting to bloom, I decided to take puppy Don down there hiking. I'll have more pictures with him in them when I upload his PupDate entry dated March 31.

It was a sunny spring day in the 50s-60s F. and just perfect for wandering around on the soft dirt trails through the azalea gardens. The word apparently hasn't gotten out yet about all the flowers in bloom because there were very few people around -- on a Sunday -- while I was there between 11 AM and 1:40 PM.

Callaway Gardens is located near Pine Mountain, GA about an hour's drive from our house. We got an annual pass early last March when we had visitors from out of state and it's good until the end of this March. [And extended until summer after COVID severely reduced the number of visitors to the park this spring.]

I parked at the Overlook Azalea Garden first. That's the first left turn when visitors enter the main gate.

Here is a partial map of Callaway Gardens, with the three locations I visited on this date marked with purple dots:

You can find the whole map at this link.

Some azaleas were beginning to bloom in the Overlook Area but many not shown here were still bare of buds or flowers:






After Don and I walked all around the dirt paths on the Overlook hillside, I drove around the western end of large Mountain Creek Lake to the Azalea Bowl.

The trails in that area are paved and accessible to more people but there were very few visitors there, either, and even fewer azaleas were in bloom than along the Overlook Trails.



Above and below:  The flower beds around the park are updated every few weeks with seasonal flowers,
such as these pansies and tulips blooming in early spring. Soon there will be daffodils in these beds.
Callaway Gardens has a large horticulture building where most of the flowers and shrubs are started.


Lenten roses (Hellebores)


About the only patch of azaleas blooming in the Bowl area were these at one end of the bridge over part of Lower Creek Falls Pond:



We followed a path to the little chapel at one end of the pond and Don posed by the cascades in Lower Falls Creek but he didn't want to get into the water. That didn't surprise me, as he isn't fond of creeks or lakes.

A sign outside the chapel said a wedding was in progress.

I didn't hear anything when I went close to the door but I didn't open it, in case there really were people inside.


Bluet wildflowers? I'm not sure. They are only about 1" in diameter.

Delicate flowers on a Chickasaw plum tree

The Azalea Bowl and Overlook area were both more colorful a couple weeks later but it was such a pretty day on this first trip that I had no complaints.

We went to the Discovery Center in the early afternoon and by then, a few more people were around. No one could miss these giant insects at the entrance, advertising a new program that was to be offered soon:


We walked around inside the beautiful building first -- Don was allowed inside since he had his guide-dog-in-training vest on -- then wandered around outside for a while.

Callaway Gardens was a good place for Don to experience some new exposures and training opportunities that included down-under a low bench and theater seats, going into two different kinds of public restrooms, listening to bird sounds at a distance during a raptor talk, watching squealing kids pedaling past us on bicycles near the visitor center, and examining preserved wildlife in the kids' discovery center. He was a perfect gentleman indoors and out.

We walked a total of about three miles. Don got to sniff new scents along the trails but he wasn't nearly as distracted as he is on our daily walks in our neighborhood because many fewer dogs have left their scents on the trails at Callaway Gardens.

We had a good time at Callaway and I knew I'd go back again while the azaleas were still blooming.

That almost didn't happen, however, because in the next couple of weeks, life as we knew it would change dramatically in this country.

Next entryphotos during peak azalea bloom at Callaway Gardens in mid-March

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2020 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil