Gardens and Trails

The Anniston Museums and Gardens resides on 125 acres of beautiful native and exotic landscapes. The Alabama Forestry Commission recertified the Anniston Museum of Natural History’s forest as a Stewardship Forest in 2020. In order to receive this certification, one must “demonstrate a responsible land ethic and manage your property in accordance with national stewardship principles.”

Anniston Museums and Gardens is proud to continue our part in sustaining Alabama’s forests.

Mrs. Eugenia G. Brannon Nature Trail

The ¾ mile long Mrs. Eugenia G. Brannon Trail has two main loops and begins at the Learning Lodge adjacent to the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The upper trail traverses an oak-dominated forest with scattered hickories and pines. The soils are relatively dry and the plants that grow here are adapted to these conditions. The lower portion begins at the Museum Drive crosswalk (where it connects to the upper loop) halfway up the trail hill toward the Anniston Museum. Beyond the road lies a low, moist woodland situated on the floodplain of an intermittent stream. It is a lowland forest dominated by tulip-poplar, sweetgum, and red maple. Moisture-loving plants such as ferns are common. The composition of plants of the bottomland forest is much different from the species found on the dry ridge of the upper trail.

Bird of Prey Trail

Get an up-close look at magnificent winged hunters! This special trail is home to permanently injured hawks and owls. These birds of prey cannot be released into the wild, as their chance of survival is low. They now help people learn about their essential role in nature through educational programming. 

Courtyard Garden and Koi Pond 

The Anniston Museum Tropical Courtyard has the lush look of the tropics, reminiscent of warmer climate zones due to the protected enclosure and high concrete walls that serves as a microclimate. Hardy palms and bananas — the most extensive public collection in Alabama — are the heart of this courtyard garden. Accented with spectacular flowering plants like hibiscus, lantana, oleander, cannas, and ginger-lilies, the garden is at peak during the warm season from May until frost. The tropical look is one of dazzling form and contrast, punctuated with sensational, colorful blossoms and foliage! At its hub is a towering abstract sculpture spouting water into a pool filled with darting koi carp. 

Wildlife Garden

The Wildlife Garden, designed to attract wild birds and other animals, features native plants of the southeastern United States. It is certified by the National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat program. This garden is located on the west side of the museum. It includes a stone-lined pond with a waterfall nestled among beautiful river birches. This habitat attracts many birds, small mammals, and other wildlife by providing food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. The museum created this demonstration garden to inspire others to “garden for wildlife” around their homes – from small city gardens to large suburban lots. 

Berman Museum Xeriscape

The plantings around the contemporary Berman Museum building are xeriscape plants known for their low water consumption. We often think of drought tolerant plants as desert dwellers like agave, cactus, and yuccas, but the collection includes many exotic plants that can survive on very little water once established, yet perform well in northeast Alabama. In an alcove in the front courtyard, a sizable edible date palm dominates the space and is an unusual sight this far north.

Anniston Rotary Sensory Garden

Funded and built by the Anniston Rotary Club, the Rotary Sensory Garden is a delight for the senses. By utilizing plants with fragrant flowers, aromatic foliage, or soft, fuzzy foliage pleasing to the touch, this garden uses visual texture, smell, and touch to connect with visitors. The fragrance of various blooms is the most prevalent aspect of garden senses. Some plants are distinctly and uniquely unpleasant. The soft leaves of Clary Sage that feel like puppy ears are the garden’s favorite among student visitors.  

Tropical Cascading Garden

The waterfall provided by the Anniston Rotary Club is the centerpiece of this garden. The collection of tropical perennials is dazzling in the warm season when gingers and cannas bloom and elephant ears wave lofty leaves in the breeze. Tropical flowers grace the amazing assortment of hardy tropical plants that thrive in our sultry summer heat and return following our short winters. The collection of ornamental bananas with their garish blooms is another asset. 

Rosemary Synoptic Garden

We are evaluating over a dozen Rosemary cultivars to determine which performs best in northeast Alabama. The collection is located to the right of the Longleaf Event Center.

Aromi Azalea Collection

The Aromi azalea collection is a hybrid group developed by the late Dr. Eugen Aromi of Mobile. The hybrids were developed for the deep south with increased heat tolerance in mind. Maarten van der Guissen donated his collection and it is planted in the nursery area, with plans to relocate as the garden develops. 

Edible Garden Display

The edible garden is a collection of edible trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals that provide food and food products. While we typically think of peaches, figs, and blueberries as edible plants in our area, we have displayed some uncommon edibles such as tea, sugar cane, pine nuts, turmeric, and guava. Seeing the actual source of many of the food items in our daily lives can be quite satisfying to the curious mind.

Longleaf Nature Trail

The 1/3-mile trail meanders the forested slope behind the Longleaf Event Center. The loop trail highlights our native tree species and the longleaf pine stages, the namesake of the gardens. The climb is moderate and we recommend proper hiking shoes. There are some rest points along the way that allow you to enjoy the tranquility of the forest. Visitors may spot wildlife, such as, deer, turkey, snakes, and songbirds. 

Alabama Birding Trail

The Anniston Museums and Gardens serve as a ‘Gateway’ site for the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail. The trees throughout the campus harbor breeding songbirds year-round such as Carolina Chickadees and Wrens, Chipping Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, American Robins, and the Tufted Titmouse. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Goldfinches, and Thrashers can be seen and heard in the Wildlife Garden located at the back of the Anniston Museum. The best time of year for the site is spring and fall when the hilltop forest becomes a first-class place to look for migrants, such as the Indigo Bunting. Birdhouses are located throughout the Longleaf Botanical Gardens, offering our many Eastern Bluebirds a safe place to raise their families.