As the holidays neared, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum served up a feast for the eyes and tastebuds at its annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon on Tuesday November 17. Because of the COVID-19 requirements, the accessories of the day were masks that complemented outfits and face shields that showcased faces. Some guests like Vaughan Gross, Pat Prior, Nancy Griffith, PJ Bate, Carmyn Neely, Eleanor Casey, Cheryl Toman, Linda Myers, Mary Ellen Winborn, Barbara Rogers, Ginger Rounthwaite, Shelia M. Durante, Deborah Cole, Sherry Winger, Joan Smith, Harriett Gibbs, Prissy Gravely, Nancy Bierman, Patti Flowers, Robin Lewis, Joan Perry, Sarah Hardin, Fonda Arbetter, Mary Jo Lincicome, Pepsi Windland and Rose Gault enjoyed the symposium and luncheon at the homes of Honorary Chair Diane Sealy, Suzanne Caruso and Venise Stuart. Council President Kay Weeks, Event Chair Suzanne Millet, Presenting Sponsor Empress Gilbert, Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar, Michelle Mew, Dorothea Meltzer, Caroline Whitman, Beth Ewing, Mary Griggs, Regina Bruce, Margaret Chambers and handful of others were right at home at the DeGolyer House and Camp House. Despite the event being virtual, it didn’t limit the presentations by author/designer James Farmer and local author Lisa Fine that benefited the Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden. Here’s a report from the field:
Southern author and interior designer James Farmer and Dallas’ own Lisa Fine, founder of Lisa Fine Textiles, which specializes in hand printed linens that are sold in 16 showrooms worldwide, delighted everyone who joined in the virtual literary symposium of the 14th Annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon “Near or Far…There Is No Place Like Home” benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden.
Empressive Earth Gallery presented the event as Diamond Sponsor. Diane Sealy was honorary chair and was also a home hostess, welcoming friends into her home for the symposium and luncheon. Suzanne Millet chaired the event and with support from Women’s Council President Kay Weeks brought many facets together into one fabulous presentation, along with the behind-the-scenes help of Maurice Ballew, MCB Videos.
A lovely video featuring aerial and close-up views of A Woman’s Garden opened the virtual symposium and introduced Mistress of Ceremonies Jocelyn White, who introduced Kay. Speaking from the library at the DeGolyer Mansion at the Dallas Arboretum, Kay welcomed everyone and shared a brief history of the mansion and the Women’s Council. Suzanne thanked Empress Gilbert and Micah Gilbert for their presenting sponsorship as a short video gave a brief tour of their gallery.
The symposium first featured Lisa Fine, who began with an overview of her book, “Near and Far: Interiors I Love”, a collection of homes all over the world that have inspired her textile collection.
Lisa’s book features homes of friends and clients who are world travelers. Many are artists as well, also taking inspiration from the scenes and experiences from where Lisa began in Paris and then all over the world, including India, London, Greece, Sweden and more where she was inspired by the colors, textures and patterns, designs with a twist and a touch of the exotic and bizarre. Retelling anecdotes of design adventures with friends such as Lee Radziwill and Rose Tarlow, Lisa also shared personal stories about the design aspects and patterns used in their homes. She featured fabulous photos of her own apartment in New York and her mother’s home here in Dallas.
The next segment began with James Farmer filmed from his home, Farmdale Cottage in Perry, Georgia, as he was seated in the garden and enjoying one of his favorite refreshments, Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade which is featured in one of his books, “Sip and Savor”. James emphasized how we all have different stimuli that takes us home through our senses and remembrances of favorite times as we arrive at our own homes. The crunching of gravel in the driveway. Scenes of flowering bushes and trees. Scents of our favorite foods. That is exactly what he wants to convey in his new book, “Arriving Home A Gracious Southern Welcome”, which features design projects from the farmlands of Georgia to the rolling countryside of Connecticut. He shared delightful stories of growing up in a small town and tied those stories into the history behind the design of his own home where he mixes antiques with found items, family heirlooms and new purchases.
Back in Dallas, the day before the symposium, flowers were delivered to hostess homes by Junior Villanueva’s Garden Gate matching the demonstration James gave on arranging, as they created their own arrangement along with him.
Suzanne gave heartfelt thanks to her committee, saying it was an honor and privilege to have served as chair of this wonderful event. She thanked Kay for her inspiration and encouragement during the planning of A Writer’s Garden.
After the presentations, home hostesses and their guests enjoyed luncheons provided by Preston Hollow Catering.
Sponsors included the following:
- Diamond Sponsor — Empressive Gallery
- Silver Sponsors — Suzanne Caruso and Diane Sealy
- Bronze Sponsors — Nancy McDonnell Harlin, Mary MacRae, Suzanne Millet, Katherine Weber and Kay Weeks
- Table Hosts — Becky Burgett, Suzanne Caruso, Nancy Cates, Kathy Cothrum, Melanie Cowlishaw, Empressive Earth Gallery, Lisa Fine, Carmen Hancock, Nancy Harlin, Linda Huffhines, Sue John, Lisa Laughlin, Mary MacRae, Dorothea Meltzer, Suzanne Millet, Vicki Petersen, Katherine Phillips, Diane Sealy, Joanie Stephens, Venise Stuart, Betty Suellentrop, Mary Lynn Vaughan, Sharon Walker, Katherine Weber and Kay Weeks.
The raffle featured a Showstopping Mad Hatter’s Custom Tea Dress designed by Patti Flowers Design Studio, Exquisite Opal Doublets and Diamond Earrings by Howard Donsky Fine Jewelry; an Exceptionally Wonderful Custom Hat by Bay Willow Design; Personalized Home Rendering includes Note Cards and up to Three Additional Prints by Sandy Watson; “Tea for Four” with Champagne Service at the DeGolyer Tea Room featuring a Fresh Floral Arrangement in a McKenzie-Childs Courtly Check Tea Kettle, the tea kettle was donated by Suzanne Roberts; “Spruce up your Home” package complete with gourmet wines and delicacies, Home design service by Kay Troutt of KST Design, Kitchen design services by Helene Terry of Helene’s Luxury Kitchens, and gift cards from Jackson’s Home and Garden and Mary Cates.
National media sponsor was Flower Magazine. Media sponsors were My Sweet Charity, The Scout Guide Dallas and Estate Life Magazine. Very special thanks went to Maurice Ballew, MCB Videos.
Membership in the Women’s Council is open to the community and has many benefits, including special events for members only, invitations to private parties and more. Check the website for more details www.womenscouncildallasarboretum.org
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky and Daniel Driensky ** Photo credit: Sharon Adams