Looking Back at 2020: A Breath for Piedmont Park

In most ways, 2020 was a bleak year for Atlanta, our country and our world.  COVID-19 jumbled our daily routines and daily pleasures.

While 2020 will be forever known for its challenges and disruptions, one of the bright discoveries last year was the deep recognition of the value of our public parks. For Atlanta, Piedmont Park remained open throughout the entire year for anyone to come and escape their homes, exercise and connect with nature and other people, all at a safe distance.

Piedmont Park remained a top destination in 2020, but in many ways the Park looked different. Instead of visitors flocking from all over to attend one of the many festivals, our neighbors, residents and local explorers re-discovered this beautiful, passive greenspace. We saw more roller skates, picnic blankets and kites, the classic items that pull our heartstrings and inspire us to play. Visitors did not necessarily congregate in any one area, and the impact on the grounds were minimal.

The Park is known for the plethora of activities and events it provides to our city. Some festivals attract upwards to 100,000 people while many others are much smaller. However, cumulative wear and tear occurs when events are set up in the same areas week after week.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy and the City took advantage of the break in events to deep clean and rehabilitate some of the worn areas to both improve the visual appeal and resiliency of the grounds, particularly for the more trafficked areas in the Meadow and Oak Hill. The timing and execution of aeration, fertilization, mowing and other maintenance tasks were based on ideal horticulture and agronomy schedules instead of avoiding events. Many of the areas that had been worn down to dirt are once again covered with beautiful Hybrid Bermuda grass.

The weather also made a big impact. In contrast to the distress of so many other parts of 2020, the weather was near perfect for improving the grounds. Rainfall came in intervals that was frequent enough, but not too much at one time. Thunderstorms helped with nitrogen fixation which is nature’s way of helping to fertilize the Park.

This past year, I have been struck by the physical beauty of Piedmont Park.  The beautiful condition of Piedmont Park is stunning, maybe the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The Conservancy has been able to cultivate Piedmont Park’s landscape in a way we never have before. We hope 2020 will serve as a case study of how beautiful and valuable Piedmont Park’s greenspace can be when provided proper recovery, great weather and a lot of love. Even in festival use areas, proper land rest and turf recovery periods can help the Park stay vibrant and green all year.

Parks are not passive investments, they’re active investments. The festivals and events will eventually come back. We will see a day, maybe not so far away, where Piedmont Park once again attracts festivals, concerts and other large events. We will use what we learned this past year to work with our friends at the City on caring for Piedmont Park for both events and our local citizens. We are proud to be a city partner and know that when conservancies and government work together, public spaces will thrive.

Until then, we are thankful to see Piedmont Park experience a much needed rest, while also serving such a critical role in our daily lives.

Author: Mark Banta, President/CEO, Piedmont Park Conservancy

Learn more about the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Fourteen New Trees Planted in Piedmont Park

Thanks to the Georgia ReLeaf grant from the Georgia Tree Council, Piedmont Park Conservancy was able to plant 14 new native trees this past December 2020. Trees provide a plethora of benefits including heat reduction, cleaner air and habitats for wildlife. We thank everyone involved as it was truly a collaborative effort.

“Thank you City of Atlanta Arborists, Piedmont Park Conservancy and Trees Atlanta for all your good work. What a lovely way to round out a horribly challenging year.  Your commitment to our beloved park and city is inspiring. Citizens like me really appreciate it and couldn’t ask for a better holiday gift!” – Rita

All 14 trees came from Redbone Nurseries and were 2-3” caliper, balled and burlapped.

  • White Oak, Quercus alba
  • Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea
  • Swamp Chestnut Oak, Quercus michauxii
  • Cherrybark Oak, Quercus pagodafolia
  • Silverbell, Large Flowered, Halesia diptera magniflora (3)
  • Blackgum, Nyssa sylvatica ‘Green Gable’ (2)
  • Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ (1)
  • Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera (4)


Why We Counted Over 500 Trees in Piedmont Park

Seeing the leaves change color in Piedmont Park was the best part of my first Atlanta autumn. It’s that time once again, and now I know a bit more about those leaves and the trees they came from! You see, one of my primary roles as a graduate intern for Piedmont Park Conservancy is to help document every single tree in the Park. If you think that sounds like a lot of trees, just wait till you start counting!

How we counted over 500 trees in Piedmont Park

Morgan Gobeli, 2020 Graduate Public Relations Intern, Lead with Green

How Many Trees are in Piedmont Park?

All that counting isn’t just for fun though, it’s part of Piedmont Park’s mission to become a certified Arboretum. As part of the certification, all our trees must be documented. Our Community Involvement and Events Manager Erica Glasener, with the help of Trees Atlanta, has been instrumental in spearheading this ambitious project. To get it done, a small team of volunteers and I use a custom mapping program called ArcGIS Survey123 to input the GPS location of each tree, identify the species and size of the tree, and note any health issues it may have. So far, I have personally counted over 500 trees in this manner, and there’s still plenty more to go!

How we counted over 500 trees in Piedmont Park

Maintaining a Healthy Urban Forest

When it’s finished, not only will our map tell us how many trees we have, it will also tell us how many species we have in the Park. Having a wide range and distribution of species is important for a healthy urban forest, so this is great information! The map will also allow us to monitor tree health, and to track pest and disease outbreaks. We can even upload pictures of diseased leaves for a faster diagnosis! So, the next time you’re in the Park, take a moment to stop and appreciate all those beautiful trees. You can even give one a hug if you want (they won’t mind)!

If you would like to learn more about our Park projects, recognitions and environmental management, visit our Lead with Green page.

Author: Morgan Gobeli

Combining Art and Safety in Six Feet

Learn about each of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s social distancing circles.

We all know one of the golden rules: stay six feet apart. Though, over time it can become difficult to remember to distance in addition to understanding exactly how far six feet really is. Piedmont Park Conservancy’s team came up with a creative and bold way to remind Park visitors of this important guideline to keep us all safe.

Six different six-feet circles can now be found all throughout Piedmont Park. Unveiling paintings of butterflies, herons and more, these circles serve as both a preventative health measure and artistic display. Learn more about each circle below.


Scientific name: Apis mellifera

The honeybee is Georgia’s state insect! Aside from producing honey and beeswax, it is also a valuable pollinator that humans (and plants!) rely on to thrive. You can spot native bees throughout the Park – especially in the Commons and near our Education Garden. 

Leading Artist: Kasey Sorel

Bald Eagle

Scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The bald eagle has an impressive wingspan that can range from 6 to 8 feet. These birds of prey also construct nests that can be up to 13 feet deep! They are notoriously known for being used as a national symbol for the United States.
Leading Artist: Grace Yund

Great Blue Heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias

These blue-grey birds have an average wingspan of 6 feet and are frequently found near bodies of water or other wetlands. They enjoy nesting high up in trees but are known for being superb fishers.Take a stroll around Lake Clara Meer and you might catch a glimpse of one, as this bird can commonly be spotted in the Park!
Leading Artist: Whitney Hendrix

Swallowtail Butterfly

Scientific name: Papilionidae

The swallowtail butterfly is Georgia’s state butterfly. Their blue and yellow coloring is striking and helps identify them! These pollinators start out as caterpillars and go through metamorphosis to play an important role in our ecosystem later on.
Leading Artist: Whitney Hendrix

Corn Snake

Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus

Corn snakes can reach lengths of 2 to 6 feet.They are recognizable by their coloring – full of browns, oranges, reds, and yellows. These snakes are not venomous and are important due to their help with controlling rodent populations. 

Leading Artist: Juliana De La Rosa

[This circle is still in development. We will update once it is ready!]

Dogwood, Tulip Poplar, and White Oak Leaves

Scientific names: Cornus florida, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus alba

All of these different types of trees can be found throughout Piedmont Park! Our Park has an incredible range of diversity when it comes to trees. Each type of tree goes through changes as the seasons pass and also provide a habitat for critters small and large. Check out our virtual tree tours or use our walking tour guide to check them out for yourself!
Leading Artist: Kaycee Walker

Cherokee Rose

Scientific name: Rosa laevigata

The Cherokee Rose is Georgia’s state flower and can be found statewide. The flower is named after the Cherokee indian tribe. The flowers bloom in the springtime and the white petals have a velvety texture.
Leading Artist: Kaycee Walker

Do you love these beautiful social distancing circles? Consider donating to the Piedmont Park Conservancy and check out @PiedmontLearns on Instagram!

Welcome Courtney Bugler, New Chief Development and Marketing Officer

ATLANTA, GA, May 26, 2020. The Piedmont Park Conservancy welcomes Courtney Bugler as their new Chief Development and Marketing Officer. Bugler has over a decade of experience working in fundraising and nonprofit leadership including her most recent endeavor with Susan G. Komen as the National Director of the Race for the Cure and MORE THAN PINK Walk Series. She has held development roles at the Atlanta Humane Society, JDRF and more.

“We are thrilled to have Courtney join the Conservancy, said Mark Banta, Piedmont Park Conservancy’s President and CEO.  “These are unprecedented, challenging times for small nonprofits like ours. Courtney’s background, skills and passion will help us navigate through the financial impact of COVID-19 and beyond. She will be an integral leader on our team.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join Piedmont Park Conservancy, an organization with such a history in Atlanta,” says Courtney Bugler. “Piedmont Park is the heart of our community, and as we’ve seen in recent weeks, vibrant greenspace is more important than ever.  As the world has changed in the past couple of months, the need for support has only increased.  I’m honored to apply my skills and passion to this role.”

The Piedmont Park Conservancy partnered with BoardWalk Consulting, a national firm based in Atlanta in their search for a new leader for their Development and Marketing teams. Courtney Bugler’s arrival comes at a critical time for the Conservancy’s development strategy due to the pandemic. Bugler joined the Conservancy on May 18, 2020.


The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $3 million each year to enhance and maintain the park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Contact: Amy Han Risher
Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: arisher@piedmontpark.org
P: (404) 480-3758

The Greenbuild Conference Tours the Six Springs Wetlands

On Nov. 18, attendees of the Greenbuild Conference, the largest annual event for green building professionals worldwide, stopped by Piedmont Park to tour the Six Springs Wetlands and its unique stormwater management.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase the work that Piedmont Park Conservancy has done,” Howard Wertheimer, VP and COO, said. “Not only do we have the Wetlands, but we also have Greystone as a LEED certified building.”

The tour was led by Chris Nelson, former VP and COO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy until 2014. Conservancy staff members also joined the tour, which highlighted the innovative techniques used during the stream and wetland restoration of the Six Springs.

“Out of all the projects I have had the opportunity to work on, the restoration of Clear Creek and its accompanying tributaries and springs was my favorite,” Nelson said.

The Wetlands were taken over by kudzu and other invasive plants, until the North Woods Expansion Stream Restoration project took place in 2008 during the Park expansion.

The tour was attended by people from across the United States and the globe including California, New York, Philadelphia, Ohio, Georgia, Japan, France and London.

“Before the restoration began, it appeared to be just an ordinary overgrown mess of kudzu and other invasive plants,” Nelson said. “With the removal of the invasives, tons of discarded debris and the daylighting of the springs, it is now considered to be one of the premier areas for birding and for experiencing and connecting with nature in the Park. For me, it’s that hidden gem waiting to be explored.”

The system was formerly a concrete flume that was replaced with large boulders, imitating natural channel design techniques. The group observed and walked over the rocks, circling back to the bridge that rises above the Park.

“The Park contains an incredible wetland eco-system made up of a number of underground springs that continue to feed Lake Clara Meer and contribute to the flow of Clear Creek,” Nelson said. “A large number of these springs can be seen in the designated Six Springs area behind Magnolia Hall.  Its unique water system supports the most diverse plant and animal life found in the park and Midtown.”

During the tour, the group heard the city of Atlanta: People jogging, people on scooters and dogs barking wedged between the ecosystem that the Park has preserved over the last 30 years, making Piedmont Park the true green heart of Atlanta.

If you’re interested in scheduling a tour, you can email tours@piedmontpark.org. The Park hosts free historical tours at 11 a.m. on Saturdays during the Green Market until November 30th.

If you are interested in supporting the Park, you learn more about membership at piedmontpark.org/membership.

Author: Jessica Vue