Gardens for Peace - Swan Woods
The first garden in the international network, Gardens for Peace, was dedicated on April 22, 1988, on the Swan Woods Trail at the Atlanta History Center. This ceremony in Swan Woods was not only the first garden dedication but the first announcement of an unprecedented sculpture exchange with one of Atlanta’s sister cities Tiblisi, Georgia. Over the following 18 months, the sculpture exchange was completed. The Peace Tree, a life size bronze sculpture by artist Georgi “Gia” Japaridze, stands in the garden today! The idea for creating this network originated with a member of the Peachtree Garden Club during the Vietnam War. With the support of family, friends and community leaders Gardens for Peace, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1984. The founders believe that by promoting the concept of the garden as a place of peace and meditation the organization can contribute to the general social welfare of all, and to the elimination of tensions, discrimination and prejudice that are inconsistent with peace symbolized by the garden. Millicent Johnson and Kay Donahue, Presidents of the Garden Club of American, were among early major contributors. Marion Hill, Ray Thompson, Marilyn Obenshein and Rebecca Moore were early, energetic and faithful members!
Gardens for Peace strive to make others more aware of the significance of the garden as a symbol of peace. The research upon which the criteria is based was conducted by the late Simon Downs, then a graduate student in the University of Georgia’s School of Environmental Design, under the guidance of Darrel Morrison. Simon Downs wrote, “Throughout history, man’s view of his position in the universe has been expressed through the garden. During much of this history he has been at peace neither with himself, nor with the rest of nature, but still has created gardens as sanctuaries from the rest of the world. The garden has thus become one of the most universal symbols of peace” !
Through this quiet effort Swan Woods is currently linked in this worldwide community with Madrid Botanical Gardens, Agnes Scott Alumni Garden, Lakewold Gardens, Kenya Pastoral Institute, Lay Institute of Columbia Theological Seminary, Oakhurst Community Garden, Caroline C. Black Garden of Connecticut College, Duke University’s Asian Garden, Sadako Peace Garden Montecito California, Botanical Gardens of University of Georgia, Chandor Gardens of Weatherford Texas, Cheyenne Botanical Gardens, Charlottesville Historical Society Garden, Northside Hospital Serenity Garden at Women’s Center, Seattle Community College, Emory University Baker Woodland, and South Korea Pohang Central Presbyterian Garden. Spreading peace in the world begins however slowly as we discover peace within ourselves.
Swan Woods established in 1969
In the shadows of Atlanta's skyscrapers sits Swan Woods, a ten-acre outdoor ecological laboratory was conserved in 1969 by the Peachtree Garden Club. This woodland hosts an amazing variety of wildlife and many native plant species. The Peachtree Garden Club received the Garden Club of America's Founders Fund Award for this project in 1969, and more recently, was awarded runner-up in GCA 2014 Founders Fund for the Wood Family Cabin project.
To visit the Atlanta History Center blog page on Swan Woods Trail, click here.