Seminar draws people to gardens

Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Rick Bartel, of Savio Water Feature Institute, demonstrates how to install an underlayment for a water structure during a seminar at Augusta Botanical Gardens.

Rick Bartel has seen people take a lot of shortcuts when installing a pond or other water feature in their backyards.


An underlayment made for that use has no substitute.

"People think nylon carpet won't disintegrate," said Mr. Bartel, an administrator and primary instructor for the Salvio Water Feature Institute who conducted a free clinic Saturday at Augusta Botanical Gardens.

After being in the ground for five or more years, that nylon carpet begins to deteriorate and leech chemicals into the soil, he said.

Mr. Bartel installed a water feature at the gardens while promoting the Salvio product, but the workshop was more than just a plug for a product, according to Darrell Bennett, the gardens' manager.

"One of the main draws was to get people to the gardens," Mr. Bennett said.

Augusta Botanical Gardens cover 16 acres on Reynolds Street. After Gov. Sonny Perdue eliminated funding for the Georgia Golf Hall of Game Botanical Gardens last summer, the city began overseeing the property in November.

It was reopened in January. Thanks to city crews and volunteers, the park is showing signs of life once again.

Volunteers such as Chris McCormick, of Paradise Water Features, who got the water structures back in working order, have been a tremendous help, Mr. Bennett said. He has relied on volunteers because the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens had an operating budget of $450,000, but the Augusta Botanical Gardens' budget is only $50,000, he said.

Additional volunteers would be welcome, he said.

The sprawling park has many smaller "pocket gardens," Mr. Bennett said.

There's a butterfly garden with bedding shaped like butterfly wings, and plants for butterflies to feed on.

A meditation garden is nearby underneath a wall of shade trees. The koi pond has few koi in it. Otters from the Savannah River have dined on them, he said.

A smaller childrens garden features a variety of summer vegetables.

The gardens have had several bookings for weddings and picnics.

Mr. Bennett said he is working with the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta to bring a regular outdoor concert series to the gardens.

The gardens are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone who would like to volunteer can call Mr. Bennett at (706) 513-2572.

Reach Charmain Brackett at



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