The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

I am glad I saved this garden for last…….one first glance and I knew I could spend hours here……

This is going to be a loooooong post. I want you to experience everything in this garden.

This was the place of the home and garden of Ryan Gainey………now, I have to admit I knew Ryan Gainey was a gardener, but that was about all I knew about him. After I toured this garden and investigated more, I realized there was a lot more to Ryan Gainey. He was a flamboyant, brilliant, eccentric, difficult-to-work-for gardener, who loved people, in his own way, and loved gardening…………and this is what I learned…..

He often dressed in long caftans and big turbans, just to go shopping at the garden nurseries. He added all the jewelry he could, and more, plus the caftan and the turban, when he gave his garden lectures. He was a highly sought after garden designer in Atlanta, especially among the rich and famous. He was the original coordinator of the Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour, which I have been showing you in my posts………and what fabulous gardens they have been!

However, he lived in a neighborhood of small cottages and plump gardens……..you know the kind with white picket fences and plants growing where they will……..a well placed weed, is the term he used…..

At home, he was a shy man, who tended his garden and loved his dogs, Jelly Bean (JB), Leo and Baby Ruth.  When the giant 140-year-old family tree fell on his house, during a storm, and left gaping wounds to the roof….he left it, tree and all, as it was, and picked up and moved to his farm in Lexington, Georgia, to decide what to do with the house. The farm caught fire, shortly after, and he died trying to save his beloved dogs from the raging flames. But, the story does not end there……

In his will, he left his home and garden to a young mother with two boys, who lived across the street from him. When she first moved to the neighborhood, (after watching her try to tame her yard), Ryan offered his opinion, “You don’t know how to garden.” She asked the neighbors who he was. She kept working her own space, her own way. One morning, to her surprise, when she looked outside, her garden had been transformed by Ryan Gainey. Welcome to the neighborhood!

The neighborhood is a step back in time to a slower pace……he often would walk the neighborhood and pull up plants and re-locate them to his garden. He said the owners did not know how to care for them properly. Ryan Gainey was his own man.

So let’s take a peek at Ryan Gainey’s garden and how it has transformed with it’s new owner. This is the first time it has been back on the Connoisseur’s Tour since Ryan’s death in 2016.

But first, a look at one of the other cottages in the neighborhood, so you can get the feel for it.

The Neighborhood

And this was the new home at the garden of Ryan Gainey. It fits right in……but there is so much more to tell………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The driveway is where the massive tree used to be………..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

It has a very inviting porch……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and I liked all these attached pots………salvaged from the house perhaps?

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Looking this way and that………..Some of the old garden greenhouses are still on the property………..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

There is a covered terrace from the driveway……….that leads out to the gardens…..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and a quick peek around reveals many layers to this garden………..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Many of Ryan’s possessions still can be seen in the garden. This book reveals a tale about the Weekly Weeder!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and was written by Ryan Gainey!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

This plant caught my eye and I have no idea what it is………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Up close it looks like tiny milk bottles to me……………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The first greenhouse is to the right of the drive and terrace……let’s begin there……….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

We must take a peek inside!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

A gate is not just a gate here…….it has to make a statement too…………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

I can just imagine a big garden party here with the Japanese lanterns glowing in the dusk……..caftan rustling…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The garden was a sanctuary for Ryan. He savored his family history, his roots, his music, his garden knowledge……..all the cherished gifts of the heart. I bet he talked to his plants. And, he didn’t throw too much out either, and neither did the new owner.

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

He kept something for every season.

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and then some…………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and he obviously loved clay pots……….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and funky doors…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The second greenhouse on the property looked like this……..Isn’t she majestic?

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

I liked the old wires too, it made the place special……..at home, peaceful, lost in time…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

There had to be a treehouse……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

with one of the garden helpers keeping watch……….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Looking up you get this view…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Now for some more plants…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

What is this?

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and more paths…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and shrubs……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and nooks and crannies to discover……..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and then down another path……the garden goes on and on…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

There is a cut out in the hedge to sit and ponder in its shadows…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

or listen to the bells as they sway in the breeze.

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Is that water I hear? There were small hidden ponds with giant ferns………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and another greenhouse!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

I’ll call this one, the Hothouse………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

It’s looking very tropical………

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

One can never have enough pails……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

or blooming plants……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

I liked all these!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

with garden statuary to enhance the look……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

even the chicken and chain got my attention……..

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and then off to another garden setting……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Is that a tombstone along the wall?

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden
The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

Look everywhere! The garden is full!

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The last whimsey……….. the row of watering cans, before we leave…….

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and one big acorn……

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

and a table display of photos of Ryan’s life was perfect……the photo in the middle shows the original house.

The Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour: The Ryan Gainey Garden

The new owner has done a wonderful job bringing the garden back to life, but keeping a lot of of what made Ryan’s garden, well Ryan’s garden. It has all the love, whimsey and fun.

I hope you enjoyed the gardens on this years Atlanta Connoisseur Garden Tour! I am already looking forward to next year! Mark your calendars for Mother’s Day weekend! I have!

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Sheree says:

    Thank you for the tour round a fabulous garden which also has an interesting provenance.

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  2. What an interesting story! And the garden is just amazing! Thanks for taking us on tour with you!

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  3. He must have been a fascinating eccentric to lead such an interesting life, especially wearing the caftan and turben ensemble. Sadly, most of your pictures didn’t show up in the post. Perhaps if I check back later?

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    1. Jo there are a lot of photos. If you have an older computer it may take them longer to load .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, yes! and so they did appear! Many of these views remind me of our local Cowiche Creek Nursery, west of town. We love to visit, with our cocker spaniel on his leash, and stroll through the old greenhouses and around the paths, whether we plan to buy anything or not. Utterly charming ~ vibrant plants and old reclaimed “junk” pieces that lend character to the garden, from tin planters to sculpted rabbits and a rusty iron “welcome” shingle not on my front gate arbor.

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  4. A garden like this is certainly fabulous, but unless you plan to only do this, it’s not for you! I love seeing it but have a life to live outside of gardening, including travel, which something like this precludes. Thanks for sharing this beauty.

    janet

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    1. Janet, I am so glad that this garden has been lovingly cared for and I am hoping it will be on the Atlanta Connoisseur’s Garden Tour for many years! What an undertaking it must have been! The woman, who inherited the house and garden, sold her house across the street and went through many processes and dealings with the city over what should be done with Ryan Jennings estate. I should note that originally Ryan offered the property to the city to be maintained as a city garden. They declined saying it was too massive a project and the house was in ill repair even then. But, after she inherited the property the city wanted to know exactly what was going to be done on the property and had to go through “historic preservation” rigamarole. The house was condemned because it was beyond repair and she eventually (after over a year of waiting) and many architects working on a design that would be accepted, was allowed to build her house there. The garden IS huge, but I think there are several garden clubs and friends of Ryan Gainey, who help maintain this garden. It is one of Atlanta’s Treasures, that’s for sure! Its like everything else, if we don’t maintain these sights we will soon look around and say, Didn’t folks used to have nice gardens?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We went on a Hidden Garden Walk in Louisville some years ago and it was delightful. I love beautiful gardens but they take lots of work and you can’t just take off for weeks at a time or they get out of control.

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      2. Yep, I know how my garden looks when I get back from vacation and my neighbors even help tidy things up while I’m gone!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oops! Correction: “welcome shingle NOW on my front gate arbor”

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  6. Librarylady says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing place. I loved the front porch, and your pics are gorgeous. What kind of camera do you use? Surely not a cell phone . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear LL, we quit using cameras over 5 years ago. It was just too much of a hassle carrying them and all the equipment that needed to go with them. We now only take photos on our Apple IPhones! No editing either! Love it!

      Like

  7. Jo Shafer says:

    I’m thinking of you and Hubby as Hurricane Dorian makes its way up toward you area. My Florida family members — daughter and her family who recently moved to Central Florida and several cousins — fared quite well with minimal flooding, just lots of rain and winds. I hope you fare as well.

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