The first time I tried to visit Atlanta’s Botanical Garden was in early March of 2010. My then fiance and I were on a date, and I was looking for something romantic and peaceful to enjoy. As we walked up to the Botanical Garden’s entrance, I quickly realized that most of the plants were still in their “sleepy” winter state. In other words, most of them were rather dead and sad looking. Even though it was late winter, the day was beautifully sunny with clear, blue skies, and it had never occurred to me that late winter was not the best time to go.
“Do you still want to go in?” my fiance asked.
“No,” I admitted. And that was that.
If only we had persisted with our original plan! Now, after four years of living in Atlanta, Georgia, I can happily report that I finally made it to the Botanical Garden, and now that I have, I truly cannot believe that I had never visited before. The gardens are truly spectacular, and much larger than I had anticipated. “This is a world-class botanical garden,” my dad exclaimed, and he was right.
We picked a great day – partly sunny with just a hint of coolness in the air. It was in mid-September, so the Fall plants were starting to hit their stride and yet it was warm enough for many of the summer flowers to still be in bloom. One of the most impressive parts of the garden was the 600-foot long pedestrian bridge. It gradually slopes up until you are suspended among the tree tops, and the bridge’s construction makes it appear as though there is nothing really supporting the bridge.
As a gardening newbie, I loved the Wall of Herbs! A large variety of herbs are arranged vertically on a wall. The smell as you walk by this wall is just heavenly. The herbs are located in an area called the Edible Gardens, where you can admire rows of seasonal vegetables and fruits being grown. I had never actually seen a pomegranate tree before, so that was neat. Just past the edible gardens was The Orchid House, which serene and lovely. It felt like you were walking through a tropical rain forest, and the place like a giant, blooming flower. I saw many different orchid varieties I had never seen before, including one that only blooms at night. Neat
The Botanical Garden is one of those places that you need to visit in different seasons in order to really appreciate it. Afterwards, I found out that if we had gone inside during early March, there would have been plenty to see and enjoy including the Winter Garden. Here in Atlanta, we are fortunate to have many plants which bloom year-round due to the relatively mild winters we normally have. I’ll just have to head back to the gardens this winter to see what there is to see.
If you do go, plan on spending at least 3-4 hours exploring, though even that is nowhere near enough time to fully appreciate all there is to see and do. You really need an entire day; next time, I plan to bring food and have a little picnic on a bench somewhere. Can’t beat that for some relaxing afternoon fun! And don’t worry about getting bored from looking at too many plants and flowers — there’s a wonderful assortment of sculptures and art work scattered throughout the grounds to keep everyone’s interest piqued.
Photos: Jenny Bengen-Albert