Mission & History

The mission of the Atlanta Botanical Garden as a non-profit is to develop and maintain plant collections for display, education, research, conservation and enjoyment.

Below is a 35 year timeline featuring the history and important highlights of the Garden.

1973 - 1979

1973 Civic-minded Atlantans propose a botanical garden for the city 

1976 Incorporation of Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc. 

1977 Double-wide trailer assigned to Atlanta Botanical Garden as first office; Bill Warner from Holden Arboretum becomes first full-time Executive Director

1979 Ann Lyon Crammond named second Executive Director; first Plant Sale held; first Country Christmas held

1980 - 1989

1980 50-year lease executed with City; first Garden of Eden Ball staged

1981 Raiford Intern program founded

1982 Education program expanded

1983 50,000 people visit the Garden

1984 Garden Associates founded by Peggy Martin; First Annual Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour; Storza Woods fenced and reclamation starts; first concerts on the great lawn held

1985 GardenHouse opens; Capital Campaign I raises $3 million

1986 Advisory Panel gives expertise; Mildred Pinnell named Horticulturist; newsletter dubbed Clippings published; Troutman Camellia collection planted

1987 Ron Determann named Fuqua Conservatory Superintendent

1988 Atlanta Botanical Garden Mission Statement written; National Advisory Committee evaluates Atlanta Botanical Garden progress; re-start of Southeastern (Atlanta) Flower Show chaired by Pat Hartrampf

1989 Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory opens; Capital Campaign II raises $6.4 million

1990 - 1999

1990 Torreya taxifolia safeguarding initiative begins

1991 "Conservation" added to Atlanta Botanical Garden mission statement; Alston Overlook constructed

1992 "Concerts on the Lawn" held; Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts International Waterlily Society conference; Robert Bowden becomes Executive Director

1993 Alston Glenn named Executive Director; GGIA Award received for Robinson Fern Glade

1994 Micropropagation lab opened and named for Ron Determann

1995 Iseli Award recognizes Atlanta Botanical Garden Southern Conifer Garden; Atlanta Botanical Garden becomes founding member of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance

1996 Garden Design magazine names Fuqua Conservatory one of top three in U.S.; Red Venus Fly Trap "Akai Ryu" introduced; first Atlanta Botanical Garden collecting trip to China made

1997 Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts International Carnivorous Plant Society Conference

1998 Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, brought into bloom and receives worldwide publicity; Capital Campaign III raises $16 million; Hosta collection established by Greater Atlanta Hosta Society; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Grant awarded for conservation of mountain bogs

1999 Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Children's Garden opens; Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts Endangered Plant Committee of World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission; Atlanta Botanical Garden brings Cymbidella pardalina into bloom

2000 - 2009

2000 Smithgall family donates 168 acres in Gainesville for Arboretum; Atlanta Botanical Garden introduces double-flowered Sarracenia leucophylla "Tarnok"

2001 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Grant received for restoration of mountain habitat; groundbreaking held for Mershon Hall

2002 Newly designed web site launches; Fuqua Orchid Center/Center for Conservation and Education opens; Mary Pat Matheson named Executive Director; Scarecrow Festival, Orchid Daze exhibits held

2003 Mershon Hall (formerly known as Exhibit Hall)opens; Parterre Garden wins urban landscape award; TREEmendous TREEhouses exhibit staged; Concerts in the Garden held; Cocktails in the Garden begins; Harlequin Toad Atleopus varius discovered not extinct; membership exceeds 12,000

2004 Blockbuster Chihuly in the Garden exhibition staged; 20th Anniversary of Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour held; Smithgall Arboretum greenhouse and nursery open; Plant Sale moves to Smithgall; visitation hits 425,000

2005 Locomotion in the Garden, Trains Across Georgia exhibition opens

2006 Niki in the Garden exhibition is a great success, redesigned web site launches

2007 David Rogers' Big Bugs & KILLER PLANTS draws summertime crowds with a wealth of programming.

2008 Sculpture in Motion, Art Choreographed by Nature is the Garden's first multi-artist show and features kinetic, moving art.  

2009 Springtime sees Moore in America, the largest exhibition of monumental, bronze outdoor sculptures of Henry Moore; the new Visitor Center & Garden Gift Shop debut, and the SAGE green parking facility opens along with new gardens.

2010 - present

2010 The Grand Opening of the Canopy Walk, Edible Garden and Cascades Garden marks the completion of an expansion project which nearly doubles the size of the Garden.

2011 Atlanta Blooms debuts its first year as the new springtime exhibition featuring hundreds of thousands of bulbs.

2011 The new Garden Lights, Holiday Nights tradition opens with one million energy-efficient LED lights.


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