Ryan Gainey did for gardening what Martha Stewart did for housekeeping. In fact, the two became friends and still get together in the Hamptons. Gainey was also close to internationally respected garden legend Rosemary Verey. His captivating Decatur garden is the darling of national home and garden magazines as well as the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s annual Connoisseurs tour, which he helped found. Known for wearing unconventional headgear (such as Amish hats or Muslim-style caps), colorful scarves, and linen or silk dusters, he has a reputation as an irascible genius. His own website describes his avocation as “gardener, poet, raconteur, philosopher, mentor, verbite, visionary, designer, and showman.” Where others might say “bring the outdoors in,” Gainey upholsters the ceiling in live magnolia leaves.
Swan Song Audrey Hepburn featured Gainey in her series Gardens of the World, her final video performance. He hosted two garden parties for her when she was a UNICEF ambassador.
Photograph by David Schilling