From decor to dress to discussions, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum’s 15th Annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon lived up to its “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” theme on Tuesday, November 16. Presenting a trio of authors — G. Michael Shoup, Bettie Bearden Pardee and Susan Sully — Women’s Council President Lisa Loy Laughlin, Event Chair Sandy Ammons and Honorary Chair Marilyn Weber provided a day of storytelling and education. Lisa also had a surprise announcement for the crowd assembled at the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall. Here’s a report from the field:
It was a lovely beginning of a beautiful day as the Dallas Arboretum’s Autumn at the Arboretum provided a gorgeous backdrop for the 15th Annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden.
Chaired by Sandy Ammons, with Marilyn Weber as honorary chair and Lisa Loy Laughlin as president of the Women’s Council, the symposium featured three acclaimed authors and their unique presentations: Bettie Bearden Pardee shared an insider’s view of her home through the seasons in Newport, Rhode Island; Susan Sully entertained us with the special qualities that define the American South’s way of living and G. Michael Shoup took us on the journey of his extraordinary efforts to find and restore the world’s favorite flower, the rose.
The morning began with a reception including a wide array of sumptuous treats, indulgent pastries and coffee bar sponsored by Patti Mitchell, book sales and signing by all three authors, table centerpiece sales and the opening of the silent auction. Lisa welcomed everyone thanking the nearly sold-out crowd for joining in the symposium and luncheon today and celebrating this year’s theme “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” She presented a gift to Sandy in appreciation for her chairing today’s symposium, “Everything Is Coming Up Roses.” Sandy presented a beautiful bouquet of multi-colored roses to Marilyn in appreciation for her serving as honorary chair.
Mistress of Ceremonies Calvert Collins Bratton thanked Junior Villanueva of The Garden Gate and for the gorgeous centerpieces and stunning stage design underwritten by Pier and Glenn Burgess. She also thanked Susan and Dr. Mark Geyer for their generous hospitality in hosting the Meet the Authors Reception the evening before.
Shoup, founder of The Antique Rose Emporium, is a local favorite and was the first speaker. He is considered a key international figure in the renaissance of antique roses and is passionate about continuing the education and history of roses. He is the author of three books, the most recent being Empress of the Garden. To the delight of everyone, he shared his story about how he was not really a fan of roses as the beginning of his career when he started a nursery focusing on woody ornamentals for landscape and retail clients.
But these choices were not going to sustain the endeavor. His epiphany came when he realized the strongest, easiest, most beautiful plant was already growing in cemeteries and down quite roads – old roses that had survived decades of weather and neglect. He became a rose rustler, a rosarian who sought to save and propagate unique and tough roses. A favorite, “Peggy Martin” rose, which he discovered at someone’s home, had survived Hurricane Katrina and was featured in the rose plant sale.
Bettie is an author, editor of the luxury lifestyle website, PrivateNewport.com, designer of the Parterre Bench and a national lecturer. She began her remarks saying that she is very much looking forward to touring A Woman’s Garden and was delightfully surprised to learn that the garden was designed by landscape architect and her good friend, the late Morgan Wheelock. Her background has focused on the essence of style of the richly diverse lives of tastemakers and she did not disappoint. She gave insight into the private lives of the people who make up the town of Newport, including the design of her own home and gardens through the four seasons. Her newest books, Private Newport: At Home and in the Garden and Living Newport: Houses, People, Style illuminate the private side of her fabled town.
Just before a brief intermission, Lisa gave a heartfelt presentation with a special announcement saying, “In recognition of her steadfast support and generosity to Women’s Council and A Writer’s Garden, we honor Faye Briggs with the establishment of Faye’s Book Collection. We thank Michael Montgomery and his family for their enthusiastic encouragement and support by including their beloved mother and grandmother as part of today’s and all future Writer’s Gardens.” Watch for more details about Faye’s Book Collection in early 2022.
The next speaker, Susan Sully, is from Charleston, South Carolina and is an author, photographer and co-author of 18 books about architecture and design. Solo books include her newest offering, “Southern Hospitality at Home,” as well as “Past Present: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques, Houses with Charm” and “The Southern Cosmopolitan.” She is passionate about the distinct regional culture and architecture of the South. Her fascinations range from historic recipes for bedtime bonbons to21st century houses designed in the modern vernacular and neo-classical styles. She shared personal stories about her interest in guest bedrooms and how they have evolved throughout time, saying she has slept in every guest bedroom she writes about. She loves the mixture of cherishing the past and making it modern by integrating antiques and heirlooms with modern pieces with character, encouraging everyone to mix it in and make the design your own. Her newest book, “The Allure of Charleston“ publishes in April 2022.
After the presentations, guests enjoyed luncheon and rose champagne provided by Gil’s Elegant Catering beginning with a salad including baby Texas greens with poached pears and goat cheese; a second course of chicken and wild mushroom crepes napped in champagne buerre blanc, vegetables and a wild rice mix, topped off with a dessert of trois-revieres mousse with raspberry sauce, coffee and tea. Delicious rose shaped cookie favors were provided by Char Sutherlin. Table design was created by Patti Flowers.
Underwriters and sponsors included Rosa ‘Blythe Spirit’ Platinum Underwriter Marilyn Weber; Rose ‘Double Delight’ Gold Underwriters Vinette and Michael Montgomery; Rosa ‘Fragrant Cloud’ Silver Underwriters Suzanne Caruso, Cathey Humphreys and Rosa ‘Autumn Damask’ Bronze Underwriters Sandy Ammons and Lisa Loy Laughlin, Nancy Bierman, Sarah Harkinson and Sharon Walker, Nancy McDonnell Harlin, Charlotte Kimberlin, Karla McKenzie and Janet Sue Rush. Also making the symposium and luncheon a success were Lisianthus Society Patrons, Contributing Sponsors, Table Hosts, Tributes and Contributing Donors.
Magazine media sponsor is D Home. Media sponsor is My Sweet Charity.
Membership in the Women’s Council has many benefits, including special events for members only, invitations to private parties and more. Check the website for more details www.wcdabg.org
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky