Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dunaway Gardens - A Hidden Treasure

Maybe my husband and I are a little odd.  Some couples go out to dinner or a movie but most of the time my husband and I spend our special time together going out on an adventure.  Today was an adventure day.  
 Though located just 20 minutes from my house we'd never visited Dunaway Gardens.   I'd heard about the gardens about 10 years ago and it had been on my wish list of places to visit for a long time. 
 In some ways it is a very unusual garden in how it had it beginnings.  Hettie Jane Dunaway was a famous actress and was part of a traveling troupe in the 20s.   She ended up married to someone from Newnan, Georgia and settled down in the area on her husband's family property.   Hettie went to work creating a magical garden and theater camp which took 18 years to complete.  She called it a "theater garden" and the property included a grass amphitheater, stage, a tearoom, a honeymoon lodge, numerous spring fed pools with waterfalls, a Japanese garden, a granite outcropping and a natural swimming pool.
Dunaway Gardens in its previous glory days
 For a period of time it was home for the Hollywood Ballet Troupe and numerous stars, performers, lecturers and dancers would visit the theater garden to rest, rejuvenate and train in the 20s, 30s and 40s. 
But the glory days ended and over time the garden went untended and the garden and its history became overgrown.  Hettie Jane Dunaway died in 1961 and the garden was somewhat forgotten.  This was an old barn theater at Dunaway which was torn down in 1968.
From Georgia Archives - 1968
A stone monument replaced the original wooden totem pole that Hetti Jane had in her garden
When the current owners bought they land they begin to "discover" where the garden had once been and slowly began the excavation and renovation of Hettie Jane's beautiful theater garden. 
Originally there would have been fewer trees but now many of the trees Hetti Jane planted have created a canopy over the garden areas.  In many places there are beautiful shade gardens and of course lots of new plants have been added since Hettie Jane designed the garden but I'll let photos tell the rest of the story.  
I love that there is an honor system for admission
The former tearoom restored is now a bridal cottage
One garden room leads to another

Stone from the local area was used to create the garden path and walls

The amphitheater restored is now where weddings are often held

Waterfalls are in many areas of the garden
Who knew there was another stone mountain in Georgia

I told my husband that I was sure this was where the faeries were living

Entrance to the Japanese garden

So it really was a "PINK SATURDAY"
 If you love gardens you will really enjoy visiting Dunaway Gardens.  Be sure to check their schedule as they aren't open every day but you are welcome to bring a picnic and spend some time enjoying the gardens and the tranquility.  

I'll be joining The Tablescaper for this week's Seasonal Sunday.


  1. Oh, I've been there and it's so special. My bridge group spent a couple of days at Serenbe and we spent one afternoon at Dunaway Gardens. Loved it! Are you going on the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Garden Tour held on Mother's Day? My husband and I always do that, so maybe you and yours would enjoy it, too.
    Linda @ A Toile Tale

    1. Linda, I'm really hoping to this year. Somehow I miss it every year but I'm determined this year. Serenbe is another wonderful place to visit in the area. One of these days we must meet up.

  2. I'm so glad that Dunaway Gardens was rescued! It looked so unique in the past and is very beautiful again.

    1. You never know. You might get down this way to see it for yourself! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  3. Dunaway Gardens looks so beautiful. I've never seen it, so I'd better put it on my list of places to visit. :)
    Thanks for the garden tour. Happy Sunday,

  4. Cheryl, this is the way I'd like to spend a Saturday, Sunday, or any other day. Visiting a beautiful garden is one of my favorite destinations. Thanks for taking us along. Love the honor system payment. ~ Sarah

  5. "JoJo's Joys" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors here.

  6. How beautiful and what a wonderful place for a wedding! I love their honor system too! We visited a private garden in Key West, where you place your entrance fee in a jar :)

  7. Hi Jojo, I will have to see exactly how far Dunaway Gardens is from Atlanta. We go there often and I love to explore new locations. This would be a beautiful place to visit. I have to go to a place where faeries live! I enjoyed your photos, enough that I've added Dunaway Gardens to my list of places to visit.
    Enjoy your Sunday.

    the French Hutch

  8. Hi Jojo,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for you sweet comment. What lovely gardens! Lovely blog too. I will visit often. Enjoy your Sunday.

  9. Jojo I have never heard of it and I live near this. I'm glad it was restored. I will put it on my list of things to do. sandie

  10. That was a lovely adventure. My husband always tell me to think of things as a "new adventure". So I enjoyed your term "an adventure". Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  11. What a wonderful story of how this garden came into being...AND, how truly great that the new owners wanted to make the garden "live" once again.....! It looks like such a very special place to visit. Thanks for this wonderful introduction to this unusual and rare place.

  12. Oh take my breath away darlin'. This looks like a place where I could just move right in and let my OCFD (Obsessive Compulsive Flower Disorder) soar!!!

    Thank you so much for lettin' me tag along on this wonderful tour through your beautiful pictures sweetie.

    God bless ya and have yourself a glorious week!!! :o)

  13. We went to the Scott's Antique Market last month – we may have walked near you. I used to go to the Lakewood Fairgrounds antique market every month but now we have so many things that I try not to go to markets often. We also used to go to auctions in Calhoun – they were great.
    You sure looked good at the Atlanta Heart Ball – it must have been fun. I enjoyed looking at the Grove Park Inn again – isn’t it an interesting building! We stayed there a few years ago for my husband’s birthday in February – it was snowing and so pretty. I have never been to Newnan and now that I see your pictures of the Dunaway Gardens I’ll try to go and visit them, they look charming.

  14. I don't think you and your husband are odd in liking to try adventures. My husband and I like to take day trips. Your Dunaway Gardens are beautiful.

  15. I miss living in real green space sometimes. The desert has its own cool life but trees count.

  16. What a beautiful place you found. I love the idea of going on an adventure date!

  17. How lovely...thanks so much for sharing. I love gardens with lots of nooks and weddings here are gorgeous. My husband and I will often take day trips too. It's more fun than just a movie:)

  18. What a gorgeous adventure.

    I loved this line of your writing: But the glory days ended and over time the garden went untended and the garden and its history became overgrown.

    I would have chosen visiting that charming place over dinner any day of the week!