Atlanta had no botanical garden until 1973 when a group of civic-minded residents gathered and offered up the resources for launching a private nonprofit to create and run a garden adjoining the city’s popular Piedmont Park. Atlantan J. B. Fuqua became the main donor. Fuqua had grown up exceedingly poor then made his fortune in radio stations and manufacturing, going on to become a major philanthropist—giving about $40 million, for instance, to create the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Fuqua provided $8.5 million to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to create a main pavilion named in honor of his wife, plus a specialized structure for orchids. The Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, opened in 1989, offers indoor exhibits of tropical flora, desert plants, and other living things. The adjoining Fuqua Orchid Center, which debuted in 2002, displays the largest and rarest orchid collection in the United States. In addition to its tropical orchid house the Fuqua Center offers a unique High Elevation House that uses customized air-handling technology to propagate and display orchids normally found only at elevations of 6,000-10,000 feet near the equator, in the Andes Cloud Forest. The 30-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden also offers an unusual elevated trail, the $55 million donor-funded Kendeda Canopy Walk, which allows visitors to stroll 40-feet off the ground amidst mature trees, the only feature of its kind in an American botanical garden.
- Collections in the Fuqua Conservatory, atlantabotanicalgarden.org/our-gardens/plant-collections#block-views-nodequeue_2-block
- High Elevation House, atlantabotanicalgarden.org/plan-your-visit/locations/high-elevation-house