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Garden Stroll Takes You Behind the Gates to See Midtown’s Hidden Gems

Powered by volunteers, the annual event offers a free, self-guided tour of beautiful backyards.


Image Credit: Midtown Neighbors' Association


Looking for something unique to do this month? How about a leisurely walk through a historic neighborhood to see behind the gates of 30 amazing homes that feature beautiful gardens of all themes and sizes? You don’t need a ticket. Just walk in. Plus, there’s live music and a vendor marketplace nearby. And it’s only a stone’s throw from the Atlanta Streets Alive event on Peachtree.

Now in its 11th year, the Midtown Garden Stroll offers the public an up-close look at the hidden gems that homeowners in Midtown’s Garden District have cultivated in their backyards. The self-guided tour takes place Sunday, May 19 from 12-5pm. It reflects qualities that make this corner of Atlanta special: walkable streets under a dense canopy of green, interesting architecture spanning a century of design influences, hospitality, and elevated civic pride.

Find 2024 Midtown Garden Stroll Details Here

Produced by the Midtown Neighbors Association (MNA), the free event attracts more than 3,000 visitors annually. And it continues to grow. We spoke with some enthusiastic Garden District residents directly involved in producing the Garden Stroll to learn about what’s in store, and how it all comes together.

Heart and Stroll: Meet Event Leader Wally Dilks

Wally Dilks has lived in the Garden District since 2012. He’s the director of the Midtown Garden Stroll, a role he’s served for seven years now. Dilks works almost year-round to produce the event with his neighbors, all of whom are volunteers.

“My neighbors put in so much hard work to create something beautiful in their backyard,” Dilks said. “They are excited to open up their gardens and share them with people. And that’s what motivates me to work on organizing the stroll.”

The Midtown Garden Stroll traces its origins to an idea hatched in 2013 by a group of neighbors. Their shared interest in gardening led to designing an event where people could visit, explore the neighborhood’s beautiful gardens and lift up the community. According to Dilks, getting started meant knocking on doors and recruiting gardeners. The first one featured 15-20 gardens, and has grown from there. And a key point of pride is that it’s free to the public.

“It was a founding principle that the event should be free to keep it equitable and accessible to everyone,” Dilks said. “We attract returning visitors every year, along with newcomers, and Garden District residents who experience it, love it, and want to share their garden, too.”

The Hidden Gems in Atlanta’s Garden District

Image Credit: Midtown Neighbors' Association

The 2024 Midtown Garden Stroll will feature around 30 gardens to visit. Dilks believes the feeling of discovery is one of the best parts about the experience.

“Often the homes read as unassuming bungalows when you approach from the front,” he said. “But when you get to the backyard, wow … intimate garden oasis in the middle of the city. People don't expect that to exist a few blocks away from high-rises.”

Dilks said visitors can expect to see a range of styles and presentation, from formal gardens with carefully trimmed boxwood hedges and angular yard layouts to woodland landscaping themes exploding with wildflowers. There are sprawling backyards and smaller footprints that show vertical gardens on fences, and even creative uses of planters that economize on space. Any visitor can walk away with inspiration and design ideas to try out at home.

Step into Sanna Bryant’s Pride and Joy

This is the sixth consecutive year Sanna Bryant, a Garden District resident since 2012, has shown her amazing garden on the stroll as a Garden Host. The space was designed as a green shade garden with lovely rock hardscapes. So, why is she so excited to be a mainstay on the tour?

“Because it’s beautiful and I’m really proud of my garden,” Bryant said. “I spend time every day working on it, tinkering. For me, being outside and working is a stress reliever.”

Bryant said last year a visitor came all the way from Lithonia to see her garden specifically and get inspiration. Today, the space is undergoing a metamorphosis after having lost a large shade tree last fall. To get ready for this year’s event, Bryant is busy putting out new mulch, repainting the wrought iron fence, and weeding.

“The Garden Stroll is a great way to show people from around the region what Midtown is about beyond the usual visitor hotspots,” Bryant said.

100% Volunteer-Led Effort Plants Seeds for Friendship

Altogether, some 150 neighbors roll up their sleeves and do the work together - much of which happens behind the scenes. Volunteers assist with neighborhood beautification efforts, multi-day event support, and serve as garden hosts. From spreadsheets and sponsorships to shovels and social media, the time they spend together forges lasting friendships.

Stormie Israel, a Garden District resident since 2020, is involved in efforts to keep the neighborhood clean, attractive and welcoming. Israel and her neighbors channel their local pride into cleanup events ahead of Garden Stroll weekend. Teams get together to prune shrubs, pick up trash, and plant new flowers in public spaces.

“It's always been a great way for neighbors to get better acquainted, and for new residents to get involved in their community,” Israel said. “Planting flowers is such an easy way to spread joy and happiness.”

Lots of Choices for How to Spend your Day on May 19

This year brings unique circumstances, because the City is concurrently hosting Atlanta Streets Alive on Peachtree Street. MNA will staff a botanically-themed booth at 10th and Peachtree Streets where Atlanta Streets Alive visitors can stop by for info about the Garden Stroll. Plus, there are gardens to visit on the Atlanta Streets Alive route and close by.

Find 2024 Midtown Garden Stroll Details Here

Event HQ at 6th and Penn Streets: Your Destination for Music, Food and Vendors

Image Credit: Midtown Neighbors' Association

MNA hosts a vendor marketplace and info booth at the corner of Penn and 6th Streets. Visitors can stop by to pick up a printed stroll map, hear live music and check out offerings from 30+ vendors that sell plants, candles, pottery, paintings and lots more.

Welcoming the Community

“MNA’s mission is all about community building,” said Dilks. “And that's exactly what the Garden Stroll is about. One of the many things I believe people have come to appreciate about Midtown and the Garden District is the incredible hospitality they find here from a passionate group of folks who open their yards and welcome us in.”

Gardens After Dark is a special ticketed event produced by the Midtown Neighbors' Association that takes place on May 17. Image Credit: Midtown Neighbors' Association


The 2024 Midtown Garden Stroll takes place Sunday, May 19 from 1-5pm.

Find 2024 Midtown Garden Stroll Details Here

In addition to the stroll, the Midtown Neighbors' Association also hosts other events during this same weekend, including a Plant Swap event on May 11 and the Gardens After Dark fundraiser on May 17.

100% of the proceeds from the Midtown Garden Stroll events fund Midtown Neighbors’ Association’s non-profit community projects, programs and services.

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