It boasts 120,000 plants total, and includes sculptures of butterflies, cobras, a unicorn, fish, a dog, giant berries, an ogre, bunnies and the largest of all, at 25 feet tall, is the Earth Goddess in the Cascades Garden.
“She is made with 40,000 plants,” said Sabina Carr, garden spokeswoman.
The nonprofit Mosaiculture International of Montreal started the sculpture exhibits in 2000. Atlanta is the first U.S. city to open an exhibit of this nature.
Each sculpture has an internal irrigation system, Carr said, to allow the plants to grow throughout Atlanta’s hot summer. They are planted into moss-filled netting covering the steel structures.
“The systems were created in Montreal the same time they were built, then we had to finish them and tie them in to the water source,” she said.
It took 15 refrigerated semi-trucks to bring the sculptures to Atlanta, Carr said, and the garden hired seven extra horticulture employees just to work on maintaining it.
“In Atlanta, we’re building gardens around the sculptures, where other past exhibits have never done that,” she said.
Other exhibits display the sculptures on grass lawns or pieces of pavement, Carr said.
Garden President and CEO Mary Pat Matheson said she started dreaming about bringing mosaiculture’s work in 2003.
“I thought the work was incredible,” she said.
The company visited Atlanta a year and a half ago, Matheson said, and the idea for “Imaginary Worlds” was born.
“Their theme [in Montreal] is ‘Land of Hope’ and biodiversity, but their exhibit is much better and it’s the fourth one they’ve done, so their community is educated about it,” she said. “Ours is not, so we really wanted something fanciful that would really capture your imagination.”
Matheson said she also believes the Earth Goddess will be the “big wow” of the exhibit and the one everyone talks about, but she thinks people’s favorites will vary.
“It depends on your background because if you were a little girl like I was, and loved horses, [you will] love unicorns,” she said. “The ogre is so charismatic, and if you love ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ you’ll love that.”
The sculptures will also change with the seasons, Matheson said, with grass and flowers coming in thicker, making them even more dramatic than they already are.
If you go:
o What: “Imaginary Worlds”
o When: Now through October
o Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Midtown
o Tickets: $18.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 3 to 12 and free to members and children under 3
o Information: www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org.