Sadly Mr. Ryan Gainey passed away on July 29, 2016.
He will be honored at the Atlanta History Center on 8/31/2016 at 6:30 pm.
Click Here for More Details.



A Cherokee Tribute - Atlanta, Georgia

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Often times I am brought in to design an entire estate. Sometimes I come in to do a piece, and the relationship grows, and the process of refinement begins. This particular project is a small jewel, a garden design undertaking for an urban setting, for a client who has a doctorate in American Indian studies, specifically on the women basket makers of the Cherokee nation.

The garden sits in a busy but residential setting, surrounded by woodland. My client and I have worked together for several years developing her garden horticulturally and most recently in enhancing it architecturally by making additions and refinements to the house. One way we have enhanced the architecture is by commissioning a craftsman to create a patio of intricate patterned brick in the form of Native American symbols.

It was to be expected that given her scholarly work in the area, and my great affinity for Native American culture, our collaboration would become an exercise in pattern-making. I collect Native American basketwork, all of which is made out of indigenous material and full of intricate, wonderful patterns. To me the art or garden making is the art of pattern making, putting the pieces of puzzle together whether in a great landscape setting or in a mosaic composition.

Here we commissioned a craftsman to use variously colored brick to emancipate the interior of a basket, a particular basket which I happen to own. In every American Indian basket there's always a break in the design to allow the spirit to come and go, and so our basket has a break as well.

In another garden space which she overlooks from her office, my client asked for a terrace rich with symbols and so we designed a garden using the turtle. This creature plays a large part in Native American mythology, giving us the story of how the Earth was born.

On axis through the arbor are the Pleiades, rendered in blue and gray Tennessee crab orchard stone. The constellation of the Pleiades is prominent in the early spring sky, and has inspired stories in all ancient cultures which relied upon the skies as milestones marking the passage of the seasons. The Greeks said the stars represented the seven daughters of Atlas. They were turned into stars and cast into the skies and are part of the constellation of Orion. They appear in mid-May in the sky, and announce the beginning of good weather; a herald of spring.