Source(s): Elizabeth Dickerson
Athletes aren’t the only top performers to win medals for excellence. The Georgia Gold Medal Garden at Centennial Olympic Park displays plants worthy of the coveted “Georgia Gold Medal” designation, an annual award program designed to promote “the best of the best” of Georgia’s horticultural gems.
The Garden was established in 2003 as a joint project of the Central Fulton Master Gardeners and Centennial Olympic Park. In addition to beautifying the Park, the Garden serves to promote interest in home gardening by displaying the wide variety of ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals that thrive in Georgia’s unique growing conditions. The Garden is centered on the Georgia Agricultural Plaza located at the northern end of the Park. The winning plants are labeled with their common and botanical names. Take-home educational material on these plants is located in the Park’s Visitor’s Center.
The Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program was founded in 1994 by group of horticultural experts including University of Georgia faculty, growers, and retail nursery owners. Every year the selection committee chooses one tree, one shrub, one perennial, and one annual to win the designation. Occasionally an outstanding vine or ground cover is also selected. The plants are judged on such criteria as prolonged seasonal interest, low maintenance requirements, and site adaptability. What better place to display these winners than at a park celebrating the pursuit of excellence!
The Georgia Gold Medal Garden is located at the northern end of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. The Garden is just across Baker Street from the recently opened Georgia Aquarium. Parking is available in numerous lots around the perimeter of the Park, as well as some metered spaces on the surrounding streets. A large nearby parking lot is the Green Lot of the Georgia World Congress Center. The parking fee for the Green Lot is eight dollars. Directions to Centennial Olympic Park are as follows:
From South of Atlanta
Take I-75/85 north to the Andrew Young International Blvd (Exit 248C). Turn left onto Andrew Young International Blvd. Turn right on Marietta Street. The Green Lot will be on the left, across the street from Embassy Suites.
From North of Atlanta
Take I-75/85 south to Williams Street (Exit 249C). Turn right on Alexander Street. Turn left on Marietta Street. The Green Lot will be on the right, across the street from Embassy Suites.
From West of Atlanta
Take I-20 east to Spring Street (Exit 56B). Turn left onto Spring Street, and then left onto Marietta Street. The Green Lot will be on the left, across the street from Embassy Suites.
From East of Atlanta
Take I-20 west to Spring Street (Exit 56B). Turn right onto Spring Street, then left onto Marietta Street. The Green Lot will be on the left, across the street from Embassy Suites.