IMAGINARY WORLDS Back By Popular Demand
Imaginary Worlds returns this spring with a menagerie of all-new giant living plant sculptures sure to bring a smile as they take visitors on a fantasy journey throughout the Atlanta Botanical Garden, both at the Midtown and Gainesville locations.Back by popular demand, the exhibition, presented May 5 - October 28, recaptures the magic of the original blockbuster show from 2013 and 2014 with larger-than-life, topiary-like whimsical sculptures - only this time they're even bigger. "Imaginary Worlds was just so incredibly popular with our guests that we just had to bring it back - but with an all-new twist," said Mary Pat Matheson, the Garden's President & CEO. Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time will wow visitors with a storybook-themed world of sculptures, both indoors and out - most custom made for the Garden by the exhibition's creators, International Mosaiculture of Montreal. The nonprofit group has staged wildly successful exhibitions of its work around the world, and five years ago the Garden presented the first major exhibition of its kind in the United States. This time, the sculptures - steel forms covered in a mossy fabric, stuffed with soil and planted with thousands of meticulously groomed plants - will be staged in 14 installations. At the Midtown garden, look for a giant Phoenix looming over the Alston Overlook, a mermaid lounging beside Howell Fountain, a massive dragon and sleeping princess near the Great Lawn, a woolly mammoth and a prancing peacock inside the Fuqua Orchid Center, and three towering camels lumbering through the Skyline Garden, to name a few. At the Gainesville garden, the landscape will be adorned with a variety of characters, including a friendly ogre, panda bears and frolicking frogs. This all-new cast of characters joins the Garden's permanent sculptures, Earth Goddess and Shaggy Dog, which are legacies from the original exhibition. "In addition to featuring all of the new characters, this exhibition is unique in that the sculptures are extremely large, much more so than the ones in the original show, and our own team of horticulturists will be planting them," Matheson said. The process for creating the sculptures takes nearly half a year. It began last fall when conceptual drawings for the pieces were developed in Montreal, metal frames were fabricated, and plant palettes were chosen. The empty frames were shipped to Atlanta in January, and the Garden's horticulturists began covering them with a mesh fabric and stuffing them with soil. Then the planting commenced - inserting more than 200,000 plants, primarily annuals, one by one. Because Atlanta's winters are too cold for the annuals to survive, the sculptures were built in sections that were planted inside a greenhouse just outside the city, then trucked to the Garden in spring for assembling on site. Intricate irrigation systems beneath the surface of the sculptures allow the plants to grow - and the creatures to flourish - in Atlanta's summer heat. Throughout the exhibition, guests will be able to also enjoy the sculptures in a whole new light at night - illuminated on Thursday evenings during Cocktails in the Garden.