This year, 11 private gardens in Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Midtown were chosen to be on public display.“The gardens are very different from one another,” said tour chair Patricia King.
Some of the gardens are large, she said, like Bernadine and Jean Paul Richard’s garden on Heards Ferry Road in Sandy Springs, which involves nine themed garden spaces covering 5 acres. And some are smaller and more intimate, like Mary and John Huntz’s cottage garden in Morningside, King said.
“There’s a good balance between a couple of estate gardens, as well as gardens that have been done by garden owners themselves. That juxtaposition will be wonderful for our patrons this year. There is truly something for everybody in that regard, in terms of being able to relate to something."
New to the tour this year is the wheelchair-accessible garden of Pam and Steve Wakefield on Blackland Drive in Buckhead.
“Mr. Wakefield is in a wheelchair,” she said. “The garden does not look medicinal, or like it should be handicap-accessible. It’s just wide and smooth enough [for wheelchairs].”
And two neighboring front-yard gardens on Greenview Avenue in Buckhead are on the tour. They have several edible plants, including fig, olive, pomegranate and pear trees, as well as blueberry bushes, laurel and asparagus.
“It shows how you can do a beautiful garden design and have it be something you can use,” King said. The “sense of wonder and accessibility” of plants and garden design is what gets her excited about the tour, she said.
“I think a lot of people use it as a way to sort of imagine what their garden can look like,” King said. “It’s a great place to go and develop ideas and try on different garden designs. … It’s such an Atlanta tradition for Mother’s Day.”
Garden Development Officer Rebekka Kuntschik said the tour started in 1984 when its lead founders, landscape designer Ryan Gainey and volunteers Mary Wayne Dixon and Tom Woodham, organized it, as part of the garden’s volunteer arm Garden Associates.
The tour is weather-dependent and usually generates between $70,000 and $80,000, Kuntschik said, with all tour proceeds going directly to the garden’s operating fund to support its mission-driven activities, including education, conservation, research and the horticulture and plant collection.
The tour is self-guided and usually brings in more than 3,000 visitors annually, Kuntschik said. Additionally, a new aspect of the tour is the garden’s partnership with the Atlanta Symphony Associates and its Decorators Show House & Gardens on Old Plantation Road in Buckhead. Kuntschik said tour tickets include “bonus admission” to the home’s gardens and discounted $15 admission to the house Saturday and Sunday.
If you go:
o What: Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour
o Where: Various locations throughout Atlanta
o When: Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
o Tickets: $20 for members and $25 for non-members in advance, $30 at door and children under 12 are free
o Information: (404) 585-2062 or www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org.