By Ally Wright

Looking for something new to do for the mom in your family this Mother’s Day? Something beyond the fresh-cut bouquet? With the help of Atlanta Botanical Garden, how about turning those flowers into a whole garden?

The 29th annual Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour, an event benefiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden, will open 11 of Atlanta’s private gardens to admirers and connoisseurs alike on May 11-12.

Gardens are selected for their design and layout, use of space and terrain (if challenging), inclusion of sculpture or other features, history, sustainability, pedigree, uniqueness of plants grown or other surprises for visitors to enjoy. Most of the gardens were created by the owners themselves, though some hired designers and architects to help their vision come to life.

The Tour Chair for 2013 is Pat King, and she has chosen a variety of gardens ready to amaze all visitors, including one woodland retreat that is wheelchair accessible and an urban edible garden that tastes as good as it looks.

Most of the gardens are different every year, though there is one annual favorite: the garden of Ryan Gainey, a founder of the tour. Gainey is also an internationally-known garden designer, and he fills his roses, camellias, and boxwood topiaries and tops it off with a tree house, from which to take it all in.

Other gardens that are sure to be a hit with the family are the 5-acre piece of land that includes several gardens and a labyrinth, and the Tuscan-esque one filled with ceramic sculptures and fountains.

Some gardens may be more designed for meditation, others for chasing waterfalls. Each garden is something to discover. There’s also a gently-hilled garden where you might stumble upon the White Rabbit and be instructed to follow him to tea with the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter.

Tickets to the Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour also include admission into the gardens at the Atlanta Symphony Associates Decorators’ Show House and a discount on tickets to see the inside. This garden, designed by landscapist Ed Castro, is reminiscent of the classical tradition, and is full of dramatic landscapes designed to frame and accentuate the French-style house.

The tour is self-guided, and it is recommend to drive from site to site. It will be happening rain or shine. For more information on the specific gardens, or to purchase tickets, visit

More To Explore

The 39th annual Grant Park Home and Garden Tour 2013, which celebrates the land and architecture of the historic neighborhood, will be held May 11-12. To find more information or purchase tickets, visit

The 11th annual Kirkwood Tour of Homes, which will include lovingly-tended home gardens as landscaping, as well as exciting home renovations, is set for May 19-20 For tickets or more information on that, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.