Sunday, May 19, 2013

Explore "Imaginary Worlds" at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

This surly ogre was a favorite in the
Atlanta Botanical Garden "Imaginary
Worlds" mosaiculture exhibit
I absolutely love exploring gardens.  Public gardens, botanical gardens, personal gardens, you name it.  What I love even more than visiting a garden one time, is when there's a reason to return.  It's for this reason that I have been so pleased with the Atlanta Botanical Garden this year.

In February, my cohort Morgan and I headed to Atlanta for the "annual" Southeastern Flower Show.  While planning our trip, we heard that a former classmate, Julie, had landed a job at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Julie's tour of the botanical garden turned into the highlight of our visit.  As we were leaving the garden, Julie encouraged us to return in May to check out their upcoming "Imaginary Worlds" mosaiculture sculpture exhibit.  We just got back this afternoon, and I can not wait to tell you all about this wonderful summer feature!

Mosaiculture involves using live plants to create patterns.  Imaginary Worlds takes this a step further by implementing mosaiculture on the face of larger than life statutes.  A steel skeleton provides shape and support for the statute.  The frame is covered with a planting medium, and herbaceous planted as plugs into the medium.  Some of the larger pieces, including (my favorite) "Earth Goddess", are actually supported with heavy duty beams and footers.

Water is crucial to the success of these living statutes.  Without the drip irrigation system that runs in the body of the statute near the plants' root zones, the plants would languish in Atlanta's summer heat.

Massive cobras needed extra support in the Atlanta
Botanical Garden "Imaginary Worlds" exhibit
The exhibit seemed to draw visitors of all ages, but the statutes seemed to be especially enchanting with the youngest visitors.  Little girls felt like princesses next to the grazing unicorn and boys leaped over garden beds to get a closer look at the grumpy ogre.  A visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is a must for anyone driving through the city with youngsters this summer.

Of course, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens have more captivating features other than "Imaginary Worlds" that can be experienced throughout the year.  If it's been several years since your last visit, you'll want to experience the Kendeda Canopy Walk.  Since 2010, this is a very sturdy suspension bridge has allowed visitors to walk through the tree tops of Storza Woods.  It's fun to see the garden beds below from a birds eye view.

If the weather is a little cold or drizzly, the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory has many mature tropical specimens.  Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) creeps along the conservatory ceiling, and the roots stretch all the way down to the floor.  Live quail help control insect populations in the conservatory (watch your step for little chicks!).  Sounds of the birds and bugs come together to create a relaxing melody.

Other features include a children's garden, edible garden, conservation native bog garden, Japanese garden, and the list goes on.  Keep your eyes peeled for the Chihuly glass pieces in the gardens and visitor center.  Be sure to visit the MetroFresh cafe to relax, enjoy refreshments, and reflect on your visit.  The gift shop was also worth a visit, whether you're shopping or window shopping.

Other important considerations when planning your trip:
  • Hours of operation:
    • April - October, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
    • November - March, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
    • Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day
  • Admission:
    Lady slipper orchids sit in ladies' slippers
    on stockinged trees in the "Orchid Daze"
    exhibit in the Fuqua Orchid Center
      • Adults: $18.95
      • Youth (3-12): $12.95
      • Members and children under 3: Free
    • Parking:
      • 0 - 30 minutes: Free
      • 31 - 60 minutes: $2
      • Additional 30 minutes: $1
      • Daily Maximum: $15
    • Accessibility:
      • Virtually the entire garden is accessible.  I did not note any areas that could not be reached by one way or another.
      • Wheelchairs available at the Visitors Center on a first come first serve basis.
      • Electric mobility scooters may be rented.
    • Pets:
      • Restricted to service animals only.
      • Dogs are allowed for the annual "Reindog Parade" event.
    • Atlanta Botanic's guide to Garden Etiquette is available for review.
    Atlanta Botanic staff member Julie has a wonderful photo blog - Petal, Thought, Leaf - that catalogues her experiences in the garden.  I follow her, and you should too.  Special thanks to Julie for her brand of Southern hospitality and Morgan for her company!

    To see more photos of my visit to the Atlanta Botanic Garden, check out my flickr stream.

    If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

    When is the last time that you visited a botanical garden exhibit?  What was your favorite feature?  

    When is the last time that you visited the Atlanta Botanical Garden?  How was your experience?

    "Earth Goddess" was my absolute fav mosaiculture piece in the Atlanta Botanical Garden "Imaginary Worlds" exhibit
    There's plenty to see and do at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in any season

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