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Southern hospitality

Atlanta Botanical Garden a charming place for all ages

Created date

September 25th, 2012

What might take you to Atlanta? Family? The Atlanta Braves? Whatever the reason, a thing to bring you back could be the Atlanta Botanical Garden, a glorious place all year long. The south s long growing season allows lush possibilities splendidly realized here. Located at 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE in Atlanta s Midtown, the cultural heart of the city, the botanical garden is close to museums and, from time to time, it s a museum in itself. Sculpture exhibitions frequently are mounted in these generous expanses, for example, Independent Visions: Sculpture in the Garden is in place through October. Nineteen works, all large and visually commanding, are placed throughout the garden, in easy relationship with the natural world. Beverly Pepper s Horizontal Twist, for instance, is fully as exotic as the orchids nearby, and Michele Oka Doner s Figure with Long Arms stands tall and straight in the Reflecting Pond facing the Great Lawn. Red Grooms, a sculptor whose cheerful figures have cartoon ancestors, presents over-life-sized people in Hot Dog Vendor, seen in the Cafe Courtyard. These artists plus six others make up the internationally recognized group represented in the exhibit.

Visual feast

But it s the garden you come to see. An expansion project completed in 2010 nearly doubled the size of the place and resulted in a spectacular element, the Canopy Walk. This elevated walkway extends from a hillside into upper branches of the hardwoods of an urban forest, up to 40 feet above the ground. Native flowering plants provide seasonal shows below. Another addition from that expansion is the Edible Garden, where plants familiar on your plate and in the kitchen can be seen in developing stages. On Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. through October, the garden chef demonstrates recipes using fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the Edible Garden s Outdoor Kitchen. Still another addition with the expansion is the Cascades Garden, combining water and plant life in fine form. An interactive Children s Garden has long been in place, with a caterpillar maze, tree house, splash fountain, bog garden, and waterfall pond. Great for grandchildren. Just wandering around is perhaps the best way to explore. You will come upon the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Rock Garden, the Fuqua Orchid Center, the Perennial Border, the Aquatic Plant Pond, and much more, including the Conservatory where the climate is authentically tropical. If you want a more ordered approach, a tour is available every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10:30 a.m., free with admission (adults, $18.95; children 3 12, $12.95). When you work up an appetite, the MetroFresh In The Garden cafe has sandwiches, soups, and salads inspired by the Edible Garden. It s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is open 9 a.m. 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday from April through October, with extended hours until 10 p.m. on Thursdays. Winter hours, 9 a.m. 5 p.m., are in effect November through March. For more information, go to