THE GIANT TOPIARY EXHIBITION Imaginary Worlds returns May 5 to the Atlanta Botanical Garden with an all-new menagerie of living plant sculptures. The show runs through Oct. 28 and can be seen at both the Midtown and Gainesville locations.

Photos: Atlanta Botanical Garden

Imaginary Worlds first lumbered into the Garden in 2013/14, returning now by popular demand and mostly with creations that have never been seen before. The sculptures, which will be seen inside and out, are mostly custom-made and come from the nonprofit International Mosaiculture of Montreal.

The  sculptures — steel forms covered in soil-and-sphagnum moss and planted with thousands of meticulously groomed plants — will be staged in 14 installations. In Midtown, look for a giant phoenix towering over the Alston Overlook, a mermaid lounging beside Howell Fountain, a massive dragon and sleeping princess near the Great Lawn, a peacock inside the Fuqua Orchid Center, and three camels making their way through the Skyline Garden. The Gainesville landscape, meanwhile, will see such characters as a friendly ogre, panda bears and frolicking frogs.

The process began taking root about six months ago when conceptual drawings were done in Montreal, metal frames were fabricated and plant palettes were chosen. The empty frames were shipped to Atlanta in January, where the Garden’s horticulturists began covering them with a mesh fabric and stuffing them with soil. More than 200,000 plants, mostly annuals, were inserted one by one. The sculptures were built in sections and planted inside a greenhouse outside the city, then trucked to the Garden for assembly when the weather warmed.

The exhibit is free with Garden admission ($21.95; $15.95 ages 3-12; under 3 and Garden members free in Midtown). From May through October, the Garden is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; and 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Thursday featuring illuminated sculptures and Cocktails in the Garden. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.876.5859.