Callaway Gardens Part III: Discovery Center and Sibley Horticultural Center
Pine Mountain, GA - Events of Friday, March 30, 2012
Even though it was mostly cloudy on Friday with a chance of rain, we went back into Callaway Gardens because we still had a lot we wanted to see. One of the things Paul wanted to see was the Birds of Prey show at the amphitheater behind the Discovery Center.
We were a little early for the show, so we stopped as we passed through the Discovery Center to check out the sculptures of wildflowers made from thin, copper sheet and wire by artist Trailer McQuilkin. The metal is painstakingly cut, shaped, soldered together, and the assembled flowers are then painted with oil paints. Natural materials such as stones, sticks, pine cones and leaf fragments from other plants are included to create a life-like scene. The sculpture is so realistic, there are brown spots on some of the leaves and occasional holes in the leaves as though some insect had taken a bite. Each sculpture takes approximately two months to create. In order to create the sculptures, McQuilkin researched each subject extensively.
The collection at the Discovery Center, which was commissioned by Dean Day Sanders of Atlanta and donated to Callaway Gardens, contains 42 sculptures. The flowers pictured below are plumleaf azaleas, which are the emblem of Callaway Gardens.
After seeing the wildflower sculptures, we headed to the amphitheater for the Birds of Prey show. In the show, they bring out about half a dozen different raptors so the audience can see them up close and personal. These birds have all been injured in some way, and although most of them can fly, they could not survive on their own in the wild. The owl, for example, is partially blind in one eye as the result of being hit by a car. Without adequate depth perception, it would not be able to hunt.
When we said you get to see the birds up-close and personal, we weren't kidding. Not only did the handlers walk through the audience with the birds perched on their glove, they released the birds to fly back and forth over the audience. The handler at the back of the amphitheater would release the bird to fly to piece of meat placed on a perch, branch or rock by the other handler at the front of the amphitheater.
After the show, we stopped on our way back through the Discovery Center to see the art exhibit. Margery loved the intense colors of the landscapes featuring azaleas.
After seeing the art exhibit, the mostly-cloudy sky was starting to brighten up a bit, so we decided to drive over to check out the Sibley Horticultural Center, which is an indoor-outdoor conservatory and garden featuring tropical and sub-Mediterranean plants as well as perennials and annuals.
Opened in 1984, the Sibley Horticultural Center has 26 floor-to-ceiling glass doors that measure 24 feet tall and weigh 1,600 pounds each. These doors can be opened to allow the indoor and outdoor gardens to blend together. Because of Georgia's mild winters, the doors are open much more than they are closed.
After we toured the Sibley Horticultural Center, we headed back to the motor home for a while. Later in the afternoon, we met a couple who follows our blog and with whom we have been corresponding by email for quite some time for a late lunch/early supper (lupper) at Three Lil' Pigs barbecue restaurant in Pine Mountain.
Mike and Gerri are fellow bloggers and former full-timers who now live in nearby LaGrange. They love Callaway, and they gave us some very valuable tips when we were planning our visit.
Three Lil' Pigs has a half a dozen picnic tables outside and about half a dozen smaller tables inside. We opted for an inside table because it was starting to spit rain just as we arrived. It later turned into quite a downpour, and we got about 1.5 inches by the time the storm system moved out of the area the following afternoon.
We all had chopped pork barbecue sandwiches, which were delicious.
The sandwiches are $6 and come with slaw and chips. The portion size is very generous.
We had a good time getting to know Mike and Gerri face to face. We chatted for a long time, but eventually the restaurant started to fill up with the dinner crowd, so we had to vacate our table and say our good-byes.
There is still more to see at Callaway Gardens, so look for our next post.