Art and Horticulture Meet In Atlanta Botanical Garden Exhibits

[Mary Pat Matheson – President & CEO, Atlanta
Botanical Garden] I got here in 2002, but in 2000, the group
that makes these wonderful imaginative pieces; Mosaiculture International did their first
major exhibition in Montreal and they did in 2000 for the millennium. So, they wanted Montreal to be seen as the
Green Garden City and they did a spectacular exhibit. So I saw images of it. I didn’t get to go there, but I saw it, and
I was like, “Oh, my dream would be if I could ever bring that to a botanical garden.” So then I came here, and obviously, we’ve
done a lot of garden exhibits over the years. This one just came to fruition because I did
get to go to Montreal and meet the people who made these and actually, the director
of the Montreal Botanical Garden put us all in touch and started talking about why they
didn’t ever do anything like this in the United States. And for us, it is the art and science of horticulture,
so it’s both sculpture; which is the art side and it’s the science of horticulture. So it’s just wonderful to showcase plants. So we started the design well over a year
ago and then they fabricate the pieces in Montreal made out of steel and then they ship
them here. And in March, our horticulture team got busy
in a greenhouse up near Buford and started planting them. So we have five full-time horticulturists
plus one of our permanent horticulturists just dedicated to this exhibition. So now that it’s installed, their job is pruning. So we have to water, a little bit of fertilizer,
but the pruning is the most important part of it. Because the pruning is what creates those
wonderful chevron lines on the phoenix and the detail on the Camel man and on the peacock,
and on the dragon itself. So, they are constantly pruning. We have a big lift that they go up and down
in. And, they’re all experts in mosaic culture
and the art of pruning these wonderful creatures, but it’s a big job. So, alternanthera is one of the most important
plants here, because it can take the heat. It can take sun and shade, because think about
the dragon. He is beautiful and big, but the wings; underneath
his wings are planted and that’s shade … The top of his wing, sun. So you’ve got to have plants that are adaptable,
so we have many varieties of Alternanthera. Green ones, gray ones, red ones, some golden
ones, so we use a lot of Alternanthera. This is an annual, so none of these … Most
of these plants don’t survive the winter here, with the exception of the Carex. So if you go to see the wooly mammoth, he’s
covered in this wonderful sort of brownish, sandy colored Carex. It looks like a wooly mammoth’s hair, it’s
just wonderful cascading. I love it. I mean, it’s really what I live for. The idea of integrating art and gardens and
plants and people, to me, is what this garden is all about, and we’ve done it really well
for decades. And, this kind of an exhibition is so superb,
because it is about plants as well as about art and sculpture. And then, you can hear all the people back
there. What’s the number one word they’re using? “Wow.” So, I love it because they’re engaged in the
garden and they’re learning, and they’re having great pleasure and wonder. So, I…that’s the best way to leave. It’s a pretty good job, isn’t it?

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