The nearest big city and airport to us is Savannah, Georgia, about an hour away.
A few weeks ago we visited the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens there.
Most of the plantings are quite new and the new visitor center just opened last year.
The Georgia Colony, established by the British in 1733, was intended to be a great economic resource for England. There were high hopes for bringing great riches and wealth from the New World back to Britain.
To that end, Governor James Oglethorpe was instructed to open a 10-acre plot of land on the Savannah River and begin America's first agricultural experiment station with tropical plants from the East Indies, South America, and Europe.
Ten of the botanical garden's total 51 acres replicate some of those test plots with plants that would have been trialed there, including cotton which was to become so important to the economies of the southern colonies.
Medicinal and food crops that the first settlers to the Georgia colony were expected to produce were also trialed.
These included mulberry leaves for silkworms, grapes for wine, pomegranates, stone fruits, sesame, hops, and oranges.
For 60 years the US Department of Agriculture used the land for researching agricultural plants for the Southeast. The station closed in 1979 but the greenhouses and other buildings remain in use.
The entrance to the USDA was at the gate by this giant holly tree.
We were too late for the camellias -- the largest collection of camellias outside of China -- but we have a schedule now and we'll be going back to see our favorite things in bloom.