One of my favorite sites in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. No matter what time of year (we go about every 3 months) there is something spectacular to see. Located next to Piedmont Park, in midtown Atlanta, it is easy to get to either by driving or by MARTA, the public transportation system. Even my high school students thought it was a great place to go and apparently many families think so too because they come in droves on the weekends.
As soon as you get there you will be delighted with the entrance garden that welcomes visitors to the 30 acre garden before they even pay. As you leave the visitor center you have several choices including a formal parterre garden, Japanese Garden, or shade garden. Each garden is beautifully laid out and most of the plants are clearly labeled. A beautiful allee of crepe myrtles lying in front of the parterre garden leads the eye to a magnificent fountain and the greenhouses that lay beyond. Several theme gardens are included in the complex and should be visited: the rose garden, perennial garden, rock garden, conifer garden, and especially the aquatic and bog gardens. The aquatic garden includes huge lily pads that are found in the Amazon backwaters while the extensive bog gardens include Venus Fly Traps and Pitcher plants that will make your head spin. The extensive collection of desert plants features a huge number of xerophytes including cacti and agaves and in winter the garden invites you to view its phenomenal orchid collection featuring different habitats for different orchids. Another area in the greenhouse features a rainforest, the likes of which you have not seen before. Two extensive woodland areas give you a chance to retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Yes, I know, there are members of your family and friends that don’t give a hoot about plants. Well, this botanical garden also features some great exhibits of artists from Dale Chihuly’s glass to David Rogers’ Big Bugs and Killer Plants, and Sculpture in Motion, Art Choreographed by Nature, (a display of moving, kinetic art). For children, there is an interactive program that will please even the pickiest kid. This is definitely the garden I would want my grandchild to visit on a regular basis. The art displays change every year so check the garden website: www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
The best part to me is that the gardens look great no matter when you visit. They are well maintained, well watered and weeded, and present a sort of paradise. I look forward to every visit and I am never disappointed.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays
Fall/Winter: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Spring/Summer: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
By MARTA:Accessible via #36 bus from Arts Center Station (Sundays, #27 bus)
Children under three free
Paid on-site parking.