After more than 15 years of service, Tony Johnson, of Covington, recently retired from the University of Georgia (UGA) Griffin Campus where he served as the horticulturist for the UGA Research and Education Garden.
Ben Fields has been named the new horticulturist at the garden. Fields is a graduate of the environmental horticulture program at Southern Crescent Technical College and most recently held the position of research technician with the UGA Griffin Campus Field Research Services department and formerly worked as a research technician in the Entomology Department on the campus.
The only full-time employee at the 60-acre garden, Johnson oversaw the development, installation and maintenance of the 13 theme gardens in the Demonstration Area, the focal point for visitors to the garden. He also organized special events and educational workshops offered there and assisted UGA scientists in the research they conducted at the garden.
During his tenure, Johnson oversaw the construction of the Garden Education Building, the attractive gateway to the garden, and the paving of roadways and parking areas within the garden.
He is a Georgia Certified Landscape Professional and an active member of the Georgia Green Industry Association. He also serves on Southern Crescent Technical College’s advisory board for their environmental horticulture program and has taught landscape design and landscape management courses as an adjunct faculty member.
Johnson also taught courses within the UGA Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program and provided guided tours and individualized educational programs for Master Gardener groups. He authored the water garden chapter in the program’s training manual.
In 2007, he received the UGA Griffin Campus Award of Excellence for Classified Personnel.
Johnson, who also works as a professional Santa Claus, also volunteered his time each holiday for the annual Santa in the garden fundraiser.
For more information about the UGA R&E Garden, see the garden’s website at www.ugagarden.com or call UGA Professor Wayne Gardner at 770-228-7288. Located at 129 Ellis Road, Griffin, Georgia, the Garden is open for visitors on weekdays (except holidays) from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. (May through October).