History Center Visitors Find Peace In A Unique Garden
From Northside Neighbor- November 13, 2001
Atlanta History Center Insert
At a time when people throughout the world are experiencing more than the normal level of anxiety and stress, there is longing to find a place where we can go to feel at peace, harmonious with nature and enjoy quiet time for reflection. While the Atlanta History Center has many beautiful gardens, each with its own charm and its own missions, there is one place that has the honor of being recognized as a "Garden For Peace."
At the bottom of the Swann Wood Trail, a mature forest canopy of oak and hickory shading smaller trees, shrubs and ferns, overlooks this special garden. It features plants native to Georgia, such as Canadian hemlocks, mountain laurel, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, mayapples and a variety of ferns. There is a small bench, inviting momentary solitude for all who visit. But the outstanding feature is "the Peace Tree" statue, a 14-foot original bronze sculpture. Five life-size figures hold hands around a tree sheltering doves, a symbol of people from the world's five continents joining hands to further the cause of peace throughout the world. The relative seclusion of the garden, located in the middle of a natural wooded forest, is one feature that makes it conducive for contemplation The selection of green, textured plants rather than a collage of color, adds to the serenity. The twitter of birds and sounds of woodland creature connects with nature's tranquility. The inspiration for "The Peace Tree" came when the sculptor, Georgia "Gia" Japaridze, was in Atlanta with a Friendship Force International delegation visiting Swan Woods. He was so intrigued by the idea of a garden for peace and tranquility that he offered to create an original sculpture. He returned to his home, Atlanta's sister city of Tblisi, in the Republic of Georgia, where it took 18 months to cast the statue. Gardens for Peace, founded in 1984 by native Arlantan Dr.Laura Dorsey, designates gardens around the world as places of meditation and symbols of peace. "Gardens offer opportunities to reflect and find a greater purpose in life," says Dr. Dorsey. "The sense of peace which comes to each of us through the experiences felt in gardens crosses all political and economic barriers - something to be shared with fellow human beings and something to be cherished. The garden is a visual symbol of something intangible and a special place to find, within ourselves, the hope for a peaceful world." The Peace Garden on Swan Woods Trail at the Atlanta History Center was the first garden to be dedicated by the organization in 1988. The following year, a second Garden for Peace was dedicated in Tblisis with a sculpture by Atlanta artist, Sergio Dophi entitled "Birds." Other Gardens for Peace are located in Madrid, Spain; Decatur, Georgia; Tacoma, Washington; Nairobi, Kenya; and Durham, North Carolina. For further information, visit www.gardensforpeace.org.
Swan Woods Trail, where the garden is located, is a half-mile forested trail with signs interpreting the woodland ecosystem of the Georgia Piedmont. Traces of old terraced agricultural fields are still visible. The Garden for Peace site was originally selected and developed by the Swan Woods Foundation and The Peachtree Garden Club. Recently, students from Pace Academy have volunteered to "spruce up" the garden.