Atlanta: Where to Go and Not Go

Two days in Atlanta at the Garden Writers Association conference are in the rear view mirror.  But before I forget, I want to share three quick travel thoughts related to Atlanta, Georgia.

condessa coffee by rochelle greayer art by andrew catanses titled: Revelation in the Garden

  • Check out Gibbs Gardens.

    My visit to Gibbs was the last thing I did in a very long wet day.  I was completely saturated by rain by the time I got there.  My clothes were soaked and my shoes were puddles. I was fearful that my camera might get water damaged because my phone had already stopped working. I had already spent a morning in lectures, spoke as part of conference panel, tried not to vomit on a lengthy bus ride, and toured four other gardens.

    Nonetheless, as I entered, my first site was of a grove of crepe myrtles soaked in the rain.  The wetness elevated their grey bark stems and branches to a deep shiny russet.  They were uplit and the effect of the glowing light was immediately mood changing.  It was beautiful and it is the only thing that propelled me to get to the wine tent. I’d all but decided to turn right back around and immediately depart on another bus.

    I got waylaid by the the wine and good company (as you do). In the end, I had no energy left to explore the whole site  in the persisting rain.  From what I did see, I know that this is a garden worth seeing.  I’ll have to make my way back there the next time I am in Atlanta.

  • Make your way to Condessa Coffee.

    I stayed in downtown Atlanta which is not so different than many downtown areas. It is a collection office buildings, chain hotels and too many bars and restaurants that are everywhere else. When I can, I try to avoid places like this. I’d rather try and find the soul of a place.  It is a little hard to describe what that means but I discovered it at Condessa coffee’s downtown location.

    Condessa is a few blocks walk from most of the big hotels. It is on a street whose buildings (though some are boarded up) have clearly seen some history. I could feel that history. I could imagine lunch counters, civil rights marches, and the heat of a slow moving summer.  I wanted to sit in the window and watch vines grow on the building across the way. Where on other streets this soul is hard to find, this street can still tell some stories and has character.  In this tiny pocket of buildings, is the quiet Condessa Coffee. The coffee is good and the art is authentic. Order the beet and spinach grilled cheese sandwich, it is pure heaven.

    There are two Condessa stores. The downtown location is where I enjoyed my last morning in town, but I suspect the other one is also worth visiting.

  •  Don’t Stay at the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown.

    It seems nice enough on the surface but I am not a fan for one huge reason… bad security. Security is one of those things you don’t think about until you wish you had – because something unpleasant already happened. On my first night, I discovered a body in my hallway (no joke). Thankfully, it was not dead.  (But I didn’t know that at first, hence, screaming). It was wrapped in hotel bedding and had clearly been dumped there by someone else. (no matter how you break this down, it is messed up). It took security a long time (too long) to deal with the situation.

    Later that night a colleague was awoken after midnight by someone knocking at her hotel door. They claimed to be on the maintenance staff and were asking be let in. Good thing she was smart enough to not open the door.

    I know we can call these isolated incidents but this hotel doesn’t have keyed entry to guest room floors. In an large and busy urban setting this is generally commonplace.  That this Sheraton doesn’t have it, is inexcusable.  The basics aren’t in place, which makes me wonder what else is going on that I didn’t see. Don’t stay here – better safe than sorry.


Gibbs Gardens

Condessa Coffee


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About Rochelle Greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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