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Atlanta Botanical Garden
About North Georgia

Overview

Atlanta Botanical Gardens entrance
A 60-acre attraction with more than 30 acres of gardens and a 15-acre hardwood forest located adjacent to Piedmont Park and the Piedmont Driving Club, the Atlanta Botanical Garden began on an overgrown lot with no buildings, no director and not much money in early 1970's. When they incorporated in 1976 expansion was on their mind. They incorporated and began working in a double-wide trailer. Things began changing quickly for new attraction, and continued almost unabated to present-day.

An exhibit by Dale Chihuly (Chihuly in the Garden) drew 7,500 people a day to the Gardens in 2005, giving credence to the Garden's aggressive 55 million dollar expansion campaign that saw massive changes to the garden including a new visitors center, an "in-ground" parking deck, conversion of the original entrance building to a garden house for workshops, an edible garden, an outdoor kitchen for cooking classes, and the new, 600-foot canopy walk that takes visitors up to the tree canopy of Storza Woods. There are plenty of other improvements that aren't visible to the naked eye, like the 95,000 gallon underground cistern to conserve water.

History

Historic flower pot with Atlanta behind it
Purchased from Dr. Ben Walker by the Gentleman's Driving Club in 1887, the land which holds the Atlanta Botanical Garden housed the Piedmont Exposition that year and the Cotton States and International Exposition (a World's Fair) in 1895. The oldest structures in the Gardens date back to the 1895 Exposition and were part of the "millennium gate." When Edwin Ansley developed Ansley Park purchasing Piedmont Park became lucrative to the city because it could annex the surrounding area. Atlanta purchased the whites only park in 1904.

The oldest garden on the site, the Japanese Garden, actually predates the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Organized in 1960 and maintained by the Atlanta Bonsai Society the garden was one of the first to be renovated in 1980. The second oldest garden in the facility is the Rose Garden, which was created and maintained by the Greater Atlanta Rose Society in the 1960's. This garden was renovated in 1990. The Herb Garden was the first garden added under the newly organized Atlanta Botanical Garden. A Vine Arbor was added along featuring flowering vines suitable for the Atlanta area.

Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory
On March 18, 1989, the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory of the Atlanta Botanical Garden opened to positive reviews and was named one of the Atlanta wonders by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. It offered "visitors a whirlwind tour of exotic lands from all over the world. Madagascar, the Seychelle Islands, South African deserts and American wetlands are among the many stops." The 16,000-square-foot conservatory was made possible by a gift from Atlanta businessman J.B. Fuqua and named in honor of his wife. Atlanta was welcome to visit the gardens for free to see the new exhibit.

In the early 1990's the Garden concentrated on creating new programs and expanding its vision for the future, but by 1999 the Atlanta Botanical Garden began expanding its gardens again with the Children's Garden and the Trustee Garden. The Fuqua Center was expanded in 2002 and the seminal event in the Garden's future occurred when Washington artist Dale Chihuly oversaw the installation of his works into the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The display opened on May 1, 2004, and was originally scheduled to end on October 31, 2004. The show was extended into 2005.

When most of the exhibits were removed in May, 2005, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens was seeing 7,500 per day average with weekend rates nearing 20,000 people. Two years earlier work had begun on an expansion of the facilities by Andropogen Associates of Philadelphia and it seemed as though Chihuly in the Garden provided a thundering "yes" to those development plans.

The 2-phase "Green Expansion" was intended to lower the carbon footprint of the Gardens by expanding the green and reducing the asphalt. Turning the parking lot into new gardens helped with the plan, as did the controversial parking deck just inside the entrance.

Attractions

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk
A 600-foot long, 12-foot wide walk that eases a 40-foot change in altitude, Canopy Walk carries visitors from the Southern Seasonal Garden through Storza Woods, a 15-acre hardwood forest. Named for an early benefactor of the park, Storza Woods features oaks, hickories and tulip poplars which the walk allows you to see at canopy level. The bridge ends at Sourwood Terrace and a burgeoning Woodland Garden. The "reverse suspension" bridge has been designed to have a minimal impact on the land with small footprint steel poles holding the steel and concrete bridge. It opened on May 3, 2010 after an already checkered past. On Friday, December 19, 2008, a portion of the walk buckled, and a cascading two-minute failure collapsed even more, a killing 66-year old worker Angel Chupin and injuring 17 others.

Cascade Garden

Built on the reclaimed original entrance roadbed, the Cascade Gardens centerpiece is a multi-layered water feature in open sun. Around the waterfalls/cascades are hardy tropical plants including a number of species of ginger and hibiscus.

Edible Garden and Outdoor Kitchen

Chef prepares dish using seasonal vegetables
By vertically stacking the herb garden in the space of the former 1-acre parking lot, the Atlanta Botanical Garden could save enough space to create the Scana Energy Outdoor Kitchen right next door for cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal vegetables from the garden.

Fuqua Conservatory

Considered to be the attraction that put the Atlanta Botanical Garden on the map, the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory was a gift to the Garden from developer and politician J. B. Fuqua and his wife in 1989. The Fuqua Orchid Center was added in 2002. Although the buildings cover 16,000 square feet only about 10,000 square feet are open to the public.

The front building contains the conservatory itself, a massive display of non-native plants from around the world. In the conservatory are turtles and birds that scatter from the ground upon the approach of people. Adjacent to the Conservatory is the warm and dry Desert House featuring cactus and other sun-loving plants.

The orchid center houses the Orchid Display House with a wide array of flowers, The Orchid Atrium, a greenhouse-style display full of vividly colored orchids, and the cool, moist High Elevation House, keeping plants from mountains around the world.

County: Fulton County

Atlanta Botanical Garden





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Chihuly in the Garden
Greater Atlanta Rose Society

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