The Garden Team

The credibility and world-wide visibility of the Gardens at Athens did not happen overnight or because of any one individual. The Gardens is managed and maintained by a group of dedicated people, each of whom believe in the basic missions of the gardens: research, teaching, and new crop introduction.

Brandon Coker

Brandon has managed the garden since February 2017. He's a UGA alumni with a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Science and Environmental Systems. He loves working at the garden; growing, maintaining, and tending to the plants leaves him a sense of gratification. Brandon spends most of his free time with his wife, Heather, and their two small girls, who love finding new ways to get into trouble. They enjoy activities like gardening, taking walks, and exploring Athens.

Brandon Coker
Garden Manager
Christina Conner

Christina is our public relations student worker. She helps with social media and designs our flyers that we use to promote the garden. She is a journalism major with a minor in horticulture, her dream is to be a garden writer. Christina became interested in horticulture by creating terrariums, and after much trial and error, she fell in love with the success of getting everything right in her 'little garden'. She grew up in midtown Atlanta, and is proof that you can garden in the city. After college, she wishes to travel the world using her major. Her dream is to put the "G" back in HGTV and create her own gardening publication.

Christina Conner
Marketing Director
Carly Crow

Carly majored in Ecology, but caught the gardening bug when she was 10 years old and tended to her own garden in Augusta, Georgia. She missed gardening, and saw working at the trial gardens as a perfect way to fill the void. In the future, Carly wants to pursue a master's degree and have a career where she's happy everyday. When she's not working at the garden or teaching fitness classes, she enjoys cycling, sketching, and birdwatching.

Carly Crow
Student Worker
B.J. Garrett

B.J. Garrett is more than a volunteer. She helps out in the trial garden tremendously. Her service to us is invaluable.

B.J. Garrett
Head Volunteer
Deanna Negru

Deanna started working at the garden in May 2018. She is a 2nd year environmental engeneering major with a minor in horticulture. She loves all things green and dreams of creating things that will have a positive impact on our planet. Deanna is a self-professed DIY master, and enjoys hiking and practicing yoga in her spare time. Welcome to the team, Deanna!

Deanna Negru
Student Worker
Emily Newsome

Emily came to UGA as an undecided CAES major, but after being roommates with a horticulture major, she fell in love with the field. She is now a 3rd year horticulture major and her main focus is on ornamental production, but she's also interested in herbs. Emily has her own collection of japanese maples, which she calls an "investment in her future". In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, climbing, and painting.

Emily Newsome
Student Worker
Dr. John Ruter

Dr. Ruter hails from Los Angeles, California, where he grew up surfing waves and sidewalks. Today, he's the director of the Trial Gardens, professor, and ornamental plant breeder at UGA. Many of his specimens can be found planted right here in the garden. When he's not researching, writing books, attending conferences, or teaching classes, Dr. Ruter enjoys traveling, and "doing whatever his kids want to do". His favorite place to travel is to the mountains of the Western U.S, the plant life there is something he finds remarkable.

Dr. John Ruter
Fearless Leader

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