The Board of Directors of Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge, Inc. has started the process to dissolve the 501(c)3 corporation and will no longer be the stewards of the property known as Hamilton Gardens. 

Since 2016, the Gardens has been operating under a management agreement with Georgia Mountain Fair, Inc. (GMF) which manages the Garden area within Towns County Park. This area is outside of the actual fairgrounds, under an agreement with the Georgia Mountain Fair Authority (GMFA) which subleases those grounds, including the Gardens, from Towns County. 

Unfortunately, the existing management agreement does not provide any exclusive property or leasehold interest, which has prohibited the ability of the Gardens to secure State, Federal, and private foundation funding. The Gardens has been totally dependent upon donations from the community, which does not guarantee continuity of much-needed financial support. State, Federal, and foundation funding are vital for continued operations and management of the Gardens. 

The three entities who determine the fate of the Gardens are identified by prior legal agreements related to this property; the Towns County government, the Georgia Mountain Fair Authority, and the Georgia Mountain Fair, Inc., all of which hold exclusive leaseholds or management agreements on the tracts listed in their respective agreements. 

A new proposed agreement was presented to the Gardens Board recently, which did give a long-term sub-leasehold interest, but the leasehold interest was classified as non-exclusive. This does not resolve the funding issue and means the Grantor (s) maintain control of the use of the subject property. 

The Gardens Board had no inputs into the language of the final agreement, nor did they see it in advance of it being signed by GMFA and GMF. It was presented to us as a 'take it or leave it'. It was deemed not in the best interest for the future of the gardens to signed it. A counter-proposal by the Gardens Board changed the proposed agreement to provide for exclusive use and management of the Gardens facilities. It was presented to the GMF and GMFA respective boards but was rejected, leaving the Gardens Board with no viable path to continue in the management and development of the Hamilton Gardens facilities. 

The dissolution process will take some time and the Board will honor all of its current obligations, scheduled activities, and events, and will continue to maintain the Gardens under our prior, existing management agreement until the legal steps to dissolve the corporation have been completed. 


Due to safety concerns for our visitors and volunteers the following CDC guidelines are in effect until further notice.

Social Distancing recommended

fully vaccinated, no mask; unvaccinated, masks recommended

Be safe, feel safe on your visit

trash removal services are limited, due to health concerns for our workers.

The picnic tables are available to use, but the motto is:

“Pack it in, pack it out”.

Enjoy your time in this beautiful garden and thank you for your cooperation and your support. Because of COVID-19, upcoming events may be postponed. Please check website or facebook for last minute changes. On behalf of Hamilton Gardens staff and board, stay safe and healthy.

20+ Acres of Garden Paradise

Located on the shoreline of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia...
This 20+ acre woodland garden paradise is the largest collection of rhododendrons in the southeast. It is listed by the state of Georgia as a botanical garden and lives up to this name through the diversity of native wildflowers, plants, trees, and its ecosystem. Trilliums, shooting stars, wild ginger, trout lilies, and Solomon’s seal are just a few of the special plants found in the gardens. But what makes this garden really special is the more than 1,500 rhododendrons and native azaleas within its boundaries.

There are many varieties of rhododendrons in this collection which bloom in all colors, shapes, and sizes. The bloom season appears regularly from mid-April to mid-May and offers a spectacular visitor experience. It is celebrated each year as “A Blooming Affair at Hamilton Gardens”.

What Others are Saying

  • Lisa M.

    Beautiful gardens in a lovely setting in Hiawassee, GA. We walked the garden trails and loved it plus the views are amazing! Very well kept. A must see if you are in the area.

  • Dawson B.

    Beauty in the mountains! The volunteers take such great care of the gardens. Must see!

  • Hilary B.

    My sister held her wedding at the pavilion at the Gardens, and it was beautiful! The garden itself is lovely with the blooming flowers; lakeside trail; and several arbors, bridges and lookouts. We enjoy walking along the trails and taking in the mountain and lake vistas.

  • Kimberly M.

    I've been three times now and this is one of the most beautiful places I've been. I look forward every year when the blooms arrive. The walking paths are great and the lake views are awesome.

Visit Open 7 days a week year round!

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