Atlanta solicitor looking out for local gardener

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 6, 2014
Ray McGrath leans on a shovel in his garden at his Kirkwood home. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Ray McGrath leans on a shovel in his garden at his Kirkwood home. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Atlanta City Solicitor Lauren Clayton remembers what happened the last time someone from the city of Atlanta tried to mess with a local gardener, Ray McGrath.

Residents of Kirkwood bombarded her with emails after he was cited by code enforcement in September of 2013 because of his English Country Garden. It’s a style of gardening that follows no rigid pattern and contains plants of varying height.

Clayton got the charge dismissed. But Atlanta contacted McGrath again in August, via the city’s Office of Solid Waste Services. They posted a “courtesy ticket” on his mailbox saying he needed to clean up the public right of way.

McGrath said as best he can tell, he didn’t properly maintain the monkey grass planted next to the curb. He really wasn’t sure what to do. McGrath has lived in Kirkwood since 1982. He’s well-known around the neighborhood for his eccentric yard and his general enthusiasm about gardening.

Clayton recently told the Neighborhood Planning Unit – O during her monthly update that she’s convinced the city to leave the McGrath alone.

“He received a notice from Public Works, and I think that we’ve pretty much nipped that in the bud, but I am monitoring that,” she said.

McGrath, who hasn’t heard anything else from the city, was satisfied with that answer.

“Oh, well good,” he said when Decaturish contacted him. “I don’t know why they bothered me in the past. I drive around in Kirkwood and see so much overgrowth. In comparison, mine doesn’t look all that bad.”

Then he offered to give away some plants. He said he has one that “blooms nicely in the fall.”

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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