Mourners leave flowers at Ryan Gainey’s Decatur home

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 1, 2016

There’s been an outpouring of grief from friends and admirers of Ryan Gainey, a world-famous garden designer who died unexpectedly in a fire on July 29.

Friends and admirers have been placing flowers on the steps of Gainey’s home on Emerson Avenue in Decatur.

Photo by Dena Mellick

Photo by Dena Mellick

Gainey, 72, died trying to save his Jack Russell terriers at from a fire at his second home in Lexington, Ga. The dogs did not survive.

According to the official report from the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrived on the scene within three minutes but were unable to access the inside of the house. The fire was contained in less than an hour but could not be extinguished until the power was cut off. The coroner said the cause of death was most likely smoke inhalation.


The owner of the Goodness Grows nursery and Garden Center in Lexington, who considered Gainey a friend, provided additional details about the incident in a Facebook post.

“Ryan Gainey was in his kitchen cooking, and something caught fire. The flames spread quickly. Ryan ran out the back door of his house, grabbed a water hose, and hurried back into the conflagration to rescue his Jack Russell terriers, Leo, Jelly Bean, and Baby Ruth,” the post says. “Sadly, today, Ryan, his beloved dogs, and his treasure-filled house are no more.”

Gainey’s Decatur home has been featured in the Decatur Garden Tour, not to mention numerous books and magazines, according to Gainey’s website.

Film crews took over his home in 2011 to shoot the Disney movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”

Earlier this year a giant tree fell on his home in Decatur.

According to his biography on his website, Gainey grew up in Hartsville, South Carolina and studied Ornamental Horticulture at Clemson University. He later received an honorary doctorate in letters from Coker College in Hartsville.

Mary Pat Matheson, President and CEO of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, said Gainey’s death is a “great loss.”

“It’s a great loss for not only our community, but for our country because Ryan was so highly regarded as an esteemed designer and horticulturist,” she said.

Memorial and funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Associate Editor Dena Mellick contributed to this story. 


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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