For Matthew Klyn, owner of the Atlanta boutique plant store Garden, his favorite time of day comes after the sun has set, when he can wander through his two-room jungle alone with a glass of wine. “I start playing with everything, manicuring the plants,” he says. “My best work always comes in the end of the evening.”
Klyn, an ex-Marine who gathers his hair in a high ponytail, cuts a unique presence in Atlanta’s horticulture circles, as does his store. Garden has an entrance that isn’t so much a doorway as a maw of greenery, ready to swallow you up like a giant Venus flytrap. You slip easily through a phalanx of feathery ferns, spiky lycopodium, and plump echeveria into an atmosphere of exquisite clutter.
Plants cover every tabletop, staghorn ferns arch from the walls like living sconces, and flowering orchids of every size and shape fill the space with color. “It’s a big living billboard,” says Klyn of his store. Even his terrariums, with their ground pines, kalanchoe, and pencil cactus, hint at the design he could create in a garden.
But Klyn focuses most of his efforts on his inventory of uncommon tropical species, which have become popular with the uptick in interior gardening he has witnessed in recent years. This focus on interiors is a huge shift for Klyn, who made his name in Atlanta as an outdoor landscape architect. At the height of his business, he had thirty-five employees but he was never in the field working. When an Atlanta restaurateur hired him to build a tropical plant wall, he saw it as a way to recharge his creativity. He closed his outdoor landscape design company in 2007 and opened his store last fall. The change allowed Klyn to turn his attention to interior garden design and rare plant species full-time.
“I now come home and feel like I’ve accomplished something,” he says of his days spent with his green menagerie. Some of the plants he has nurtured and trained for years. He is happy to sell them, but only to the right buyers.
“I interview people before giving them a plant,” he says, laughing. “I have to make sure it’s going to a good home.”