Babyland General grows more than Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids founder Xavier Roberts, right, talks with convention visitors Bob Romick and Laura Grant outside Babyland General Hospital on April 21, 2023. Members of the Azalea Society of America and the National Rhododendron Society traveled from their joint convention in Atlanta to tour The Gardens at Eula Springs. The Gardens are named in honor of Roberts' mother. (photo

People from around the world visit Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland to adopt Cabbage Patch Kids, but a group was there Friday for a different reason. The joint convention of the Azalea Society of America and the National Rhododendron Society, which was meeting in Atlanta, took time to visit Babyland for the inaugural preview of The Gardens at Eula Springs, located on the Babyland property north of Cleveland.

The gardens are not yet formally open to the public, but two years ago, Mike and Pim Bamford of the Atlanta Azalea Chapter were on their way to a meeting in Dahlonega and decided to make a short detour to Babyland. Pim was so excited and focused on taking photos of the Azaleas around Babyland that she never made it inside because the couple had to get to their meeting.

Mike Bamford examines an azalea at Eula Springs Gardens. “It’s one of a kind; you won’t find it anywhere else because it’s been grown from seed,” he said. (photo

Mike Bamford is now the Eastern Vice President of the National Rhododendron Society. He helped set up the garden tours for this year’s convention and recommended the Cleveland site.

“Mr. Roberts has been hybridizing them [the azaleas and rhododendron] and growing them out from seed which is a lot more work, but the results are amazing because you get a lot more variety,” says Bamford. “What’s here is a lot different than what you will find in pretty much any other part of Georgia, and that’s what’s so neat about this place.”

The group made other stops during the week, but Friday’s Garden tours focused on Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground and The Gardens at Eula Springs in Cleveland.

Creator of Cabbage Patch Kids and Babyland General Hospital, Xavier Roberts, says Eula Springs was created as a tribute to his mother, Eula Roberts, and her love of plants.

“When I was a child, I was amazed at how she could stick a limb of a plant in the ground to create another plant. It was from that moment she created my lifelong passion for flowers,” commented Roberts.

Roberts enjoys cross-pollinating different varieties of native azaleas, irises, daylilies, amaryllis, and other varieties to develop new flowers with characteristics that offer the surprise of nature.

“You can walk the grounds of Babyland now, but hopefully, next year in the spring, we’ll open up a new section so you can see the native azaleas because they are so beautiful here in North Georgia, and they are disappearing,” says Robers. “I don’t think people realize  they are going away, and we’ve tried to come in and cross breed creating new varieties.”

The Gardens at Eula Springs is a registered agritourism business with Georgia Grown, a program in the marketing division of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

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