Beech Hollow farms 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. The original idea was inspired by an area of southwest Atlanta strewn with large
boulders and peppered with native plant species known locally as Boat Rock. Popular
with rock climbers, the area had been mostly spared the developer’s bulldozer blade
until the housing boom of the 1990’s and 2000’s slowly crept its way. The Southeast
Climber’s Coalition (SCC) established a small woodland climbing preserve in 2002,
but the surrounding area was still subject to the whims of land developers.
Pandra and Mike Williams, who were active members of the climbing community
at the time, saw first hand the destruction to native plant populations and decided to
take action. They began by working with developers to rescue plants, seeds, and bulbs
before ground-disturbing activity began in an effort to preserve local genetic plant stock.
This process proved to be troublesome, and begged a larger question: why aren’t these
plants just growing everywhere? on roadsides ? in front yards? In flower beds? The
answer proved to be lack of supply. There were few native plant nurseries in the
Atlanta area, and many existing nurseries carried very few native species. Even
the few native species available were grown from non-local genetic stock and thus did
nothing to preserve Georgia’s rich biodiverse plant history.
The idea to propagate high quality, locally sourced native plant species has woven
its way through the Williams’ Atlanta backyard, multiple school gardens and land
management agencies, an environmental education non-profit organization, and in 2009
it found a home at Beech Hollow. The property contains dry uplands, moist bottomlands,
granitic boulders, and numerous populations of native plants, including the majestic grove of Beech trees. The varied ecotones and soil types make it a wonderful place to grow a wide variety of Georgia native plants in their preferred environment. Many of the seeds and cuttings that have been living in nursery pots and refrigerators for these past few years will finally have a permanent home in which to put down roots and send their progeny back into landscape.