A not-to-be-missed site for garden travelers is the Hills & Dales Estate, the historic home and gardens of the Fuller E. Callaway family located on 35 acres of rolling hills and shady dales approximately an hour south of Atlanta.
Your first stop is the Estate visitor center to arrange a tour of the 30-room manor house. The Callaways commissioned architects Hentz & Reid to design their Italian villa style home, which was completed in 1916. There are wonderful views from the windows overlooking the gardens and one can pick out the mottos formed in some of the boxwood parterres below.
Either before or after your tour of the home, the visitor center has a short film on the history of Ferrell Gardens and Sarah Coleman Ferrell, who began expanding the gardens on the original site in 1841. It’s well worth your time and gives a proper context for the gardens themselves.
Mrs. Ferrel seems to have designed the gardens based on formal Italian Renaissance and Baroque designs in a series of patterns, mazes and descending terraces. She loved to share her gardens with others and used to invite local children to play in the parterres, even holding Easter egg hunts. One of the children who visited was Fuller Callaway, who grew up to become one of the South’s textile magnates. When he grew up, Fuller and his wife, Ida Cason Callaway, ended up buying the property in 1912 and built their home on the site of Mrs. Ferrell’s cottage. The Callaways, father and later his son Fuller, Jr. and his wife Alice, continued developing the gardens. The idea was always that the property would someday pass on to a foundation and be open to the public.
“Life is short, and as we pass this way but once, why not strew our paths with rose petals, so as to leave fragrance on life’s way?”
—Ida Cason Callaway, 1929
- The signature plant is dwarf English boxwood, but there are also American boxwood, tree boxwood, Spanish boxwood and curly leaf boxwood. Overall, there are 2 ½ acres of formal boxwood parterres.
- 23 different species of Camellia japonica.
- Magnolia Walk, where the magnolias were reportedly planted from seed during the War Between the States.
- Explore the greenhouses, where occasionally you’ll see blooms amongst the orchid collection which includes cattleyas, phaleonopsis, cymbidiums, vandas, brassavolas and angreacums.
- Conifer collection includes more than 30 varieties from at least 13 different genera.
Children under six are not allowed in the manor house.
March – June
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
July – February
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas. Visiting hours are subject to change. Please call before visiting.
1916 Hills & Dales Drive, LaGrange, GA. 30240
Call 706-882-3242. GPS: 33.039041 / -85.048439