Category Archives: Bird and Butterfly Garden

Great Georgia Pollinator Census – August 23 and 24

On August 23 and 24th it’s your chance to be a citizen scientist! Grab a timer and a friend and in just 15 minutes outside you can contribute to this statewide pollinator census.

The Great Georgia Pollinator Census is an historical initiative where Georgians will record the numbers and types of pollinators that populate our state during late summer.  You do not have to be an entomologist to be part of this important project!   The census was designed for individuals, families, garden clubs, school groups, friends – ALL Georgians to participate.

Click here to access our free pollinator identification packet and census form!

Or come visit us at the Freedom Park Farmers Market the morning of Saturday, August 24th to pick up a hard copy.


Visit for more information.

Rescheduled! Second Saturday Volunteer Day August 24

Roll up your sleeves and help Freedom Park Conservancy spruce up the park for all to enjoy! Each month we will tackle a necessary project such as planting flowers, mulching, removing invasives, or pruning.

On Saturday, August 24th beginning at 8:30am we will gather at the corner of North Avenue and Candler Park Drive to tackle several projects including creating a path through the Bird and Butterfly Garden.

There will be bugs and there will be dirt, so plan accordingly. Please wear closed-toe shoes, sunscreen, and bring water. Gloves and bags will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own if you have a preference.


Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden: Wildlife Sanctuary

By Jessi Noreault

At 210+ acres, Freedom Park is one of the largest green spaces within the Atlanta area.  A hidden gem located in the park at the corner of North Avenue and Candler Park Drive is the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden, a site for the reintroduction of native plants and shrubs for bird and pollinator habitat.

On January 15, 2019, Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden became Atlanta’s first certified Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary of 2019! With the certification, the garden will be joining a network of approximately 450 Atlanta properties in reestablishing and adding wildlife habitat for threatened birds and other species to our urban area.  To find out more about Atlanta Audubon’s Wildlife Sanctuaries or how you can certify your own property, visit: Atlanta Audubon.

Atlanta Audubon Board Member Melinda Langston presents the certification sign. L-R: Pandra Williams, Laura Hennighausen, Melinda Langston, and Leslie Edwards.

This past November, Beech Hollow volunteers Pandra Williams and Jessi Noreault, worked with members from Cub Scout Pack 586, a Scouts for Equality Inclusive Unit from the Candler Park, Lake Claire, and Inman Park neighborhoods of Atlanta.

Cub Pack 586

Pandra and Jessi guided Cub Scout Pack 586 in identifying invasive species to be removed from the area, how to properly remove plants, identifying desired native plants and how to plant new material.  Together we removed Bradford Pear/ Pyrus calleryana. 

Volunteer Pandra Williams teaches Cub Scouts about plant care. Photo by Meta Larsson.

Pack 586 are fierce with a shovel and did an amazing job digging right down to the roots to get these invasive species out of the garden to make room for planting native plants.  Since it was Fall, plants were hard to identify, and some desired native plants had their roots revealed. No worries though, the plants were put right back in the soil without any plant injuries.  Best of all, this created a great educational opportunity to discuss and look at plant roots and plant dormancy.

Once we cleared a few areas in the garden, Pandra did a demonstration on how to plant.  The scouts planted several native plant species including native Baptisia ssp, Purple Coneflower/ Echinacea purpurea, Georgia Aster/ Symphiotrichum georgianum, and Black-Eyed Susan/ Rudbeckia hirta

Make sure to take a walk-through Freedom Park this spring to check out the blooms from our plantings!

Volunteers work in Freedom Parks Bird and Butterfly Garden.

We love being able to get the word out about native plants, work with and help other local groups and get native roots back into their home soil whenever there is an opportunity!  If you are part of an organization that is interested in education or plant installations of native Georgia plants, please reach out to us.  Every new connection we make is just one more step toward healing our environment.  We can’t do it without y’all!

Freedom Park’s Bird and Butterfly Garden

By Pandra Williams, Beech Hollow Farm, as written for the Candler Park Messenger, September 2018

In 2005, Carol Vanderschaaf started the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden with Phil Edwards and the DeKalb Master Gardener Association along with Catherine Kuchar of the Audubon Society. Together, they planted over 40 different species of native plants and shrubs and lovingly tended the garden for years. Over time, Carol became the main caretaker of the garden and her many friends and volunteers often call the garden, Carol’s Garden.

Volunteering at Carol’s Garden over the years has always been a learning experience. At every volunteer day a native plant expert is present to identify the native plants in the garden and answer questions about habitat and pollinator gardening. This also helps keep native plants in place and allows volunteers to evict only the weeds.

Last fall, Beech Hollow and Scout Troop 586 scheduled a workday at the garden. The Scouts removed invasive plants from the garden, with adult help and supervision. While the group was hard at work, the Georgia aster was in bloom, and the Heart’s a Busting was dangling berries, to entice the birds to stop by and eat. The brilliant scarlet fruits of the Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, made a gorgeous splash of color under the oak trees. For birds, Winterberry and Heart’s a Busting fruits are the plant equivalent of a neon sign that says “Eat at Joe’s.”

This summer neighborhood volunteers along with Pandra Williams and Jeff Killingsworth of Beech Hollow Farm have worked every other Sunday morning on removing invasive plants, mainly Bradford pear and Porcelain Berry and getting the garden ready for fall planting. Neighborhood volunteers are welcome to join in the fall for planting and mulching.

The Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden has also had a long history of collaboration, mentorship, and environmental enrichment and education. It’s been the site of outdoor environmental classes on pollinator syndromes and environmental stewardship for students at Mary Lin School. Hundreds of hours of volunteer time have been put in over the years, as well as a few thousand dollars of grant money that has been awarded for native plants.

A brief timeline of the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden:


Carol Vanderschaaf started the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden with Phil Edwards and the DeKalb Master Gardener Association along with Catharine Kuchar of the Audubon Society. They planted over 40 different species of native plants and shrubs.

2008 through 2012

EcoAddendum engaged the students at Mary Lin School in both learning to garden, in pollinator syndromes and environmental stewardship. The students and Carol Vanderschaaf install more plants.

2013 through 2016

Environmental programming continued with Lauren Sandoval and Trees Atlanta. Each year volunteers planted new native plants.

2017 and on going

Beech Hollow Farms and the Freedom Park Conservancy along with volunteers will continue the maintenance and planting of native plants in the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden.

Partial list of plants in the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden

Native plants for birds and/or butterflies:

  • Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida or Rudbeckia hirta
  • Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
  • Golden Fleece Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa
  • Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
  • Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
  • Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata

Native plants for birds:

  • American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana
  • Blueberry, Vaccinium spp
  • Yellow root, Xanthorhizza simplicissima

Native plants for butterflies:

  • Butterfly Weed (not Bush), Asclepias tuberosa
  • Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium fistulosum
  • St. John’s Wort, Hypericum frondosum
  • Pink Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata
  • Passionflower, Passiflora incarnate


I’m happy to announce that as of February, 2015, the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden will have some new coordinators. My good friends and nature lovers, Pandra Williams, Jeff Killingsworth, Lauren Sandoval and Beech Hollow Farms  will be adopting the Garden via Park Pride.

All three have had a long term commitment to restoring native habitats and to community education. Pandra currently manages Beech Hollow Farms, a nursery for native plants, which works with communities and organizations to restore native greenspaces. Beech Hollow Farm is a 120 acre native plant farm just outside Lexington, Ga. The Farm is the culmination of a nearly decade long mission to save and propagate plants from the metro Atlanta area threatened by development and invasive species. Pandra has also been the driving force behind EcoAddendum, an organization whose focus has been on education and restoration of native species for pollinators, birds and, butterflies

Jeff is the Nursery Manager at Beech Hollow Farms and is in the process of getting his certificate in native plant studies at the State Botanical Garden He previously worked at EcoAddendum in a similar position. Jeff has been a long term gardener and has been studying ecology centered books for many years.

Lauren, in her day job, is the Youth Education Manager at Trees Atlanta. The Youth Education program uses the Freedom Park Garden as an environmental education tool with students at May Lin Elementary School just up the hill. Previously Lauren has also worked at EcoAddendum where she was closely involved with management and community education projects.

I’ll be stepping back as Garden Coordinator as soon as they take over. I’ve had that position for many years, since the first plant was put in the Garden in the spring of 2005. The Garden was enlarged three times over the years and now has over 40 species of native plants established there. Thanks to Al Hurt of Audubon we have an active bluebird box on site. There is also a bird bath for visitors to take a dip in (birds only please).

The DeKalb Master Garden Association and the Atlanta Audubon Society helped to get the garden started. The Master Gardener Association left a few years ago to go on to other projects. Over the years many neighborhood individuals and organizations helped to keep the garden going. They are too numerous to name here but I can only say how grateful I’ve been for their help!

I feel the community is very lucky to have Pandra. Jeff and Lauren taking things over. I know they will bring a great deal of knowledge, enthusiasm, dedication and energy to the project. They are committed environmentalist and have a special interest in pollinators. I can’t wait to see their vision for the Garden come into being.

Carol Vanderschaaf