The Atlanta Botanical Garden: Atlanta's Oasis of Natural Beauty

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is located in the Midtown area of Atlanta on Piedmont Avenue, one of the city's main surface streets. It is about six blocks from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector and only a 15-minute drive from downtown. The gardens are an approximately 15-minute walk from the nearest rapid transit station, but several bus routes serve the area. The Botanical Garden is adjacent to Atlanta's largest green space, Piedmont Park, and the attractions of Midtown, downtown Atlanta and Buckhead are all within a short drive.

The Botanical Garden was founded in 1976 and, in that short time, has become an award-winning center for research, education and entertainment for the entire Southeast. The 30-acre park is undergoing a $55 million expansion, which features a new "green'' visitor's center with a gift shop, theater and meeting space. A new parking deck, five-acre shade garden and treetop walkway are also planned. Other features of the garden include:

The Fuqua Conservatory. The conservatory houses most of the garden's indoor plant collections, including tropical and desert plants and small animal habitats.

The Fuqua Orchid Center. The orchid center provides a habitat for some of the world's most exotic plants, including those that grow at high altitudes.

The outdoor collections. The Botanical Garden's outdoor collections showcase both native and exotic plants, including roses, firs and conifers, hydrangeas, herbs and a Japanese garden.

Research and conservation facilities. The garden's primary research focuses on habitat conservation and restoration of Southern bogs, but they also do international plant and amphibian preservation and maintain an orchid library.

Educational facilities. The Botanical Garden's educational outreach extends to both adults and children and includes classes on growing and drawing plants, a Children's Garden, teacher's workshops and camps for children.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is also the venue for many social activities. Many indoor and outdoor areas of the garden are available for rent, and it is a popular wedding spot. Other events at the Botanical Garden include:

Guided tours that offer special insights into the garden's collections.

Cocktails in the Garden, a weekly party during the summer that highlights different plants.

SunTrust Concerts in the Garden, an outdoor concert series that features nationally known artists like Joan Baez and the Wallflowers.

Art in the Garden, which highlights the garden's permanent collection of mostly outdoor art, but also sponsors traveling exhibitions of artists like Dale Chihuly and Henry Moore.

Yoga, tai chi and meditation classes in outdoor settings.

Reviews of the Atlanta Botanical Garden are mostly positive. Visitors are pleased that there is an oasis of natural beauty hidden in the middle of the city. One person called it "a real treat in this hectic and nightmarish traffic town.'' The variety of the habitats and exhibits is popular; it seems that there is something for everyone. One young woman notes, "Even my boyfriend was amused,'' when they saw the tree frog exhibit. The Children's Garden and play area are also a hit. One family was "so excited that there was a treehouse, playground, slides and a fountain play area for the kids.'' Some visitors to the garden were not impressed, saying, "I really thought it would be larger,'' and, "Not a good use of my money.'' With its expansion and new facilities, perhaps the Botanical Garden can please everyone.

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