Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ferrell Gardens, Gardens of Hills and Dales, LaGrange Georgia

Ferrell Gardens, on the grounds of Hills and Dales, LaGrange, Georgia

The garden attached to Hills and Dales is known as Ferrell Gardens and has been planted as a formal garden since the 1830's. The land was bought by Mickelberry and Nancy Ferrell in 1832 and the garden plans begun. By the 1840's the gardens were established and were being cared for by the Ferrells' daughter, Sarah, and her husband Blount. They built a house on the land at the high point of the property. The gardens were a natural extension of the house. Sarah Ferrell turned the gardens into a gardener's paradise and people came from all over the South to see Sarah's boxwood plantings. She planted them in many fanciful and beautiful patterns - one area spells GOD and another is planted to resemble a harp and another is a church garden, a sanctuary.

Boxwoods spelling GOD

The church garden, here and below

Map of the gardens, from the Hills and Dales materials

Union troups marched through LaGrange in 1862, but Ferrell Gardens was not harmed. Sarah tended the gardens until her death in 1903. Her husband tried to keep up the gardens after her death, but they were not the same without Sarah. Blount Ferrell died in 1908 and the gardens were untended until 1911 when Fuller Callaway Sr bought the property. Mr Callaway remembered playing in the gardens as a boy - Sarah and Blount Ferrell had always let the gardens be open to the public for all to enjoy.

In 1913 the Callaways hired Hentz and Reid, Architects from Atlanta to design a house for the site. The house was to placed on the same site as the Ferrell house. It was designed in the Italian Georgian villa style. The house was renamed Hills and Dales when the Callaways moved into their new house in 1916. Ida Callaway cared for the gardens for her entire life and so did Alice Callaway, who lived there with her husband Fuller Jr (after the death of Fuller Sr and his wife Ida). All of the women who have lived on this land have been mesmerized by its beauty and have tended and cared for the gardens. Alice Callaway began each day with notes in her gardening book about what the day's labor would be. After Alice Callaway's death in 1998 the house and grounds were left to the Callaway Foundation and were meant to be enjoyed by all. A restoration was begun and the house opened to the public in 2004. You can see Alice's gardening room and notebook there. More information here.


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