East meets West in the plant world at the Sims Asian Garden.
Plant explorers began traveling to Asia hundreds of years ago. They brought plants to the West to both ornament gardens as well as to add to our agricultural products. Some of those plants have been so successful they are now symbols of our own Southern gardens: camellias, gardenias, bigleaf hydrangeas, saucer magnolias, hellebores (winter rose), surprise lilies, evergreen azaleas, and, of course, Japanese maples.
The similarities of forests in Japan and central China with our own southern Appalachia are startling in appearance, climate, and ecology. For that reason, plants perform well in Atlanta when they are from the other side of the globe. Plants that appear similar can be closely related.
In a nutshell, these similar species can have a common ancestor. That plant forefather may have existed before a major geophysical event, such as continental drift. After the continents divided, those species evolved independently, giving each continent its own distinct, though similar, species.
Here in this tranquil garden, with its towering canopy, undulating topography, dappled light, and quiet brook, the Sims Asian Garden provides a home to the Goizueta Gardens Asian Plant Collection. Benjamin H. Sims and his wife, Rebecca Wight Cherry Sims, were collectors of unusual and extraordinary Asian plants.
Three major collection groups are on display in this garden: Satsuki azaleas, numerous varieties of hydrangea, and Japanese maples. Many of the Japanese maples in this garden are transplanted here directly from the Sims family's personal Japanese Garden. Today, their collection offers insight into the beauty that the American South shares with gardens and forests separated by ocean waters and thousands of miles.