"AASU's Philip Schretter has turned the campus into one of the most amazing public gardens that I've ever visited..."
A Gem of a Campus
Established in 2001, AASU's arboretum is increasingly attracting the attention of nursery owners and horticulturists from as far away as Florida and North Carolina who come tour the campus and gaze at rare species of plants and trees.
The arboretum, encompassing the 268-acre campus, includes sections with plants typical to the South Georgia coast. Other areas include special plant collections such as the camellia garden, the conifer garden, the international garden and the primitive garden. Unique species include the Australian Banksia genus, which is grown on the west coast, but is a rare find in the Southeast. Some, like the Chinese Styrax confusum, are virtually unknown in gardens anywhere in the United States. Another Chinese native, Pseudotaxus chienii, is an endangered species not common anywhere.
For Armstrong students, faculty and staff the arboretum serves as an oasis. The campus, particularly the academic quad area, provides quiet, shady corners dotted with benches ideal for a moment of reflection or study.
Tony Avent, owner of Plants Delight Nursery in Raleigh, NC and author of So You Want to Start a Nursery, recently wrote about the AASU arboretum in his newsletter. "The other gem that I discovered this year was Armstrong Atlantic State University Arboretum in Savannah, GA. Never heard of it? It's not an arboretum in the conventional sense, as it is actually a campus-wide botanic garden, along the same lines as the fabulous Scott Arboretum on the Swarthmore, PA campus. AASU's Philip Schretter has turned the campus into one of the most amazing public gardens that I've ever visited, and I will admit to feeling a bit jaded. I don't know if it was the International Garden with sections devoted to each continent or the Banksia garden that was the most impressive, but I can't begin to tell you what a gem this is."
Schretter, who himself initiated an effort to start the arboretum, leads visitors on tours.
In November 2008, The American Camellia Society welcomed the AASU arboretum's camellia garden into the American Camellia Trail. The trail includes a group of 41 outstanding camellia gardens found mostly along the west, east, and gulf coasts of the United States.
AASU arboretum is attracting quite a bit of attention. Check out Savannah Morning New's article on savannahnow.com.