This project won the Garden Club of Georgia Civic Improvement Award (3rd place in the large club category) in 2019.
Watkinsville Garden Club member, Vivian Claire Ward, deeded her 83-acre farm off Highway 15 to the Oconee River Resource Conservation and Development Council (Oconee River RC & DC) in 1992 to preserve and enhance it so that future generations have a place to experience nature. The property, located just outside the city limits of Watkinsville, was designated the David Henry Hardigree Wildlife Sanctuary and Research Center in memory of Vivian Ward’s grandfather. An additional five acres were purchased by the Oconee River RC & DC to improve access, bringing the total size to 88 acres.
The Garden Club purchased a Lifetime Membership to the Henry David Hardigree Wildlife Sanctuary. WGC member, Janice Marable, serves on the Oconee River RC & DC. The WGC took on the Sanctuary as a new long-term project in 2015. WGC new Master Gardeners are committed to designing and installing a landscaped entrance to the Sanctuary.
Volunteers have been working on nature trails and a camping site. Several Boy Scout Eagle projects have provided seating in the outdoor chapel, benches outside the restrooms, an outdoor classroom on the nature trail, and a footbridge to cross a stream.
Over the past year, Watkinsville Garden Club members eradicated large areas of invasive weeds and grasses in front of the office, which is Vivian Ward’s home, and the two entrances at the front of the sanctuary. These areas were also heavily mulched in preparation for landscaping with native plants. In addition, invasive weeds were eradicated in large areas round the outdoor chapel.