Larger-than-life animals constructed from hundreds of plants are to be on view at the Atlanta Botanical Garden's "Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger than Life" exhibition to be held from May through October.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is thinking big once again.

In 2004, it was “Chihuly in the Garden”, acclaimed as the most prestigious exhibit in the garden’s history with 50 original glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly dispersed among the plants on its 30 acres.

In 2006, it was “Niki in the Garden”, featuring the outdoor sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalles, the French sculptress known for her enormous animals, mythical figures and oversized, powerful women often dancing to celebrate life.

Three years later in 2009, it was “Moore in America”, with 20 of Henry Moore’s massive bronze sculptures.

And this year, it’s to be “Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger than Life” in cooperation with the Montreal Botanical Garden, one of the world’s most revered gardens, which since 2000 has been an avid promoter of mosaiculture, the art of creating enormous plant sculptures.

Mary Pat Mathesan, the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s president and CEO, told Global Atlanta that she has been keeping her eye on the emerging art form ever since the first exhibition was launched at the Montreal garden in 2000. “It’s a show stopper,” she said. 

Lise Cormier, who serves as executive vice president and general manager of Mosaicultures Internationales de Montreal, had the idea for the first horticulure-as-art exhibition in the late 1990s when at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China.

The idea of creating enormous sculptures out of plants instead of ice and snow for both beauty and competition took off after she organized the first exhibition at Montreal’s Botanical Garden. Under her leadership, the five competitions to date held in Montreal in 2000, 2001 and 2003; in Shanghai, 2006 and Hamamatsu, Japan, 2009, have attracted more than 5 million visitors.

While preparations are in full swing for Montreal’s “Land of Hope” exhibition, Atlanta is preparing for “Imaginary Worlds”, which will feature an Earth Goddess that is 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide and weighs more than 20 tons.

With a sculpture of this size reigning over the exhibition, it’s no surprise that there are to be two cobras, each 15 feet tall and 9 feet wide, weighing in at more than six tons each.

The other heavy weights in this imaginary world are a five-ton ogre and butterflies each weighing one ton with wing spans of 12 feet, eight inches. Hardly outdone are two dancing fish, each 10 feet tall and more than five feet wide and each weighing more than half a ton.

And what imaginary garden of this scale would be complete without a unicorn, so an eight-foot-high and 13-foot-wide unicorn weighing two tons is on its way from Montreal as well.

They are to begin arriving in Atlanta from Montreal by truck the week of April 8 in preparation for the exhibit, which is to take place from May through October. The Atlanta exhibition is to overlap with the June 22-Sept. 29 larger exhibition in Montreal.

These works of garden art are to reflect the values that the larger exhibition in Montreal, including the insertion of the planet’s biological diversity in today’s urban development.

Additionally, the Atlanta Botanical Garden plans to highlight its amphibian conservation program including its efforts to renew declining populations of various frog species.

To see a Global Atlanta video interview with Lise Cormier from 2011 during which she describes her inspiration for the development of the mosiaculture movement, click here.

For a 2011 interview by Global Atlanta with Gilles Vincent, the director of the Montreal Botanical Garden, in anticipation of the 2013 mosiaculture exhibition to be held there, click here.

For an interview with Francois Gravel, the project manager of the 2013 Moscaiculture Exhibition in Montreal, click here.

To learn more about the Atlanta Botanical Garden, click here.