I love a garden with a good back story. And this one, with it’s tale of grandeur and notoriety in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, decades of decline and neglect to be followed by nearly being forgotten completely is hitting close to home. As you know I have been involved in the re-discovering of an extraordinary historic garden and the path to restoring it is in no way clear or even completely probable. Restoring a garden like Dunaway gardens (or the property that I have been involved with) is an epic undertaking. But Jennifer Bigham has been spending her life’s savings bringing back the water falls and pools that were carved from a granite mountain, the amphitheater, the wetlands, the japanese gardens and blue bonnet tea house that originally graced Actress Hetty Jane Dunaway’s ‘Theater Garden’ .
Hetty Jane Dunaway was the most highly paid actress in the south and when she married she moved to the Dunaway Gardens property north of Atlanta in the 20’s where she set out to create a garden for theater professionals. She developed extensive gardens and used the place to help other actors, actresses and troupes that traveled the southern united states at the time, to gain skills and perfect their craft. At it’s height, Minnie Pearl was the director and Walt Disney was a frequent visitor.
The collection of images and stories of what once was and what is beginning to be again (found on the Dunaway Gardens website) is extraordinary and fascinating and certainly makes me want to head south to revel in its remaking.