Secret garden steeped in Knoxville ‘her-story’

Presley Ford checks out a huge bird's egg in a nest at the new "Secret Garden."

Presley Ford checks out a huge bird’s egg in a nest at the new “Secret Garden.”

The folks at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum put together a touching and creative tribute to two special Knoxville women recently. During its popular annual Green Thumb Gala fundraiser, the garden unveiled a real “secret garden” created in honor of the late Andie Ray.

Andie Ray pictured at the Knoxville Botanical Garden in 2014.

Andie Ray pictured at the Knoxville Botanical Garden in 2014.

It seems that Andie was a fan of the book, “The Secret Garden,” written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, an English writer who once lived and wrote in Knoxville. Andie’s parents, Rich and Jane Ray, provided the funds for the garden, which was designed by landscape architect Sara Hedstrom Pinnell.

Andie passed away last year, cut down by cancer in middle age. For many years she owned the Market Square women’s store called Vagabondia, named after a book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. When Burnett lived in Knoxville, in the Maplehurst area, her own home was named Vagabondia Castle. Until this event at the botanical garden, I never realized the author of “The Secret Garden” lived in Knoxville for a time.

The new garden is perfectly charming. Designed as a haven for children and adults, it provides a great view of the mountains and many areas for sitting and reading or quietly talking. It has sweet whimsical elements, as well, as you will see here.

Christopher Ford and his daughter, Presley, approach the Secret Garden.

Christopher Ford and his daughter, Presley, approach the Secret Garden.

Fall flowers at the entrance provided a welcome.

Fall flowers at the entrance provided a welcome.

Here one of the lovely sitting areas.

Here’s one of the lovely sitting areas.

From left, Kenneth and Jane Creed with Joan and Neal Allen check out the big nest.

From left, Kenneth and Jane Creed with Joan and Neal Allen check out the big nest.

Cindy Hassil, left, and Jill Sublett taking advantage of a sitting area in the Secret Garden.

Cindy Hassil, left, and Jill Sublett taking advantage of a sitting area in the Secret Garden.

You will see lots of animals in the Secret Garden. Andie loved animals and they figured prominently in the book of the same name.

You will see lots of animals in the Secret Garden. Andie loved animals, and they figured prominently in the book of the same name.

Haha! This was a riot! That's Doug McKamey in a greatly oversized chair.

Haha! This was a riot! That’s Doug McKamey in a greatly oversized chair.

Meanwhile, back at the main tent, there was a party going on.

Meanwhile, back at the main tent, there was a party going on.

From left, Betsy Castleberry, Andrew Duncan, Pam Robertson and Alice Stuart provided beautiful music for a beautiful evening.

From left, Betsy Castleberry, Andrew Duncan, Pam Robertson and Alice Stuart provided beautiful music for a beautiful evening.

Andie's widower Noel Hudsoon, left, with friends Kelly Segars and John Craig.

Andie’s widower Noel Hudson, left, with friends Kelley Segars and John Craig.

Craig Griffith, left, with Cathy and Mark Hill.

Craig Griffith, left, with Cathy and Mark Hill.

Ralph Cianelli, left, with Mary Thom Adams and Rick Fox.

Ralph Cianelli, left, with Mary Thom Adams and Rick Fox.

Judy Loest and Greg Austin.

Judy Loest and Greg Austin.

Deanene Catani, left, with Alan Carmichael and Emily Campen.

Deanene Catani, left, with Alan Carmichael and Emily Campen.

From left, Chris Sneed, Will Smith, Donald Thorne and Steven Smith.

From left, Chris Sneed, Will Smith, Donald Thorne and Steven Smith.

From left, Angelia and Hugh Nystrom, Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, and Kati and Jim Blalock.

From left, Angelia and Hugh Nystrom, Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, and Kati and Jim Blalock.

From left, Craig Griffith, Ashley Capps and Bob Whetsel.

From left, Craig Griffith, Ashley Capps and Bob Whetsel.

Russ Watkins, left, and Rick Fox.

Russ Watkins, left, and Rick Fox.

Presley Ford, left, and her mother Kari, were studying some auction items.

Presley Ford, left, and her mother Kari, were studying some auction items.

Karen and Harvey White.

Karen and Harvey White.

The auction items at this event are charming. Like this adorable bird house.

The auction items at this event are charming. Like this adorable birdhouse.

And this bear made by a chain saw artist.

And this bear made by a chain saw artist.

This cute stuffed red panda represented a tour of Zoo Knoxville being offered.

This cute stuffed red panda represented a tour of Zoo Knoxville being offered.

Antoinette Fritz offers a little magic potion for getting the bid prices up.

Antoinette Fritz offers a little magic potion for getting the bid prices up.

Cucumber tea sandwiches seemed a little British in a nod to Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Cucumber tea sandwiches seemed a little British in a nod to Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The brie and pear tartlets were delish.

The brie and pear tartlets were delish.

Earl Taylor and Vicki Williams-Baumgartner.

Earl Taylor and Vicki Williams-Baumgartner.

From left, Linda Schmid, Liz Stowers, Mark Campen and Anna Ford.

From left, Linda Schmid, Liz Stowers, Mark Campen and Anna Ford.

When it was time to sit down, we saw how adorable the centerpieces were.

When it was time to sit down, we saw how adorable the centerpieces were.

The napkins were tied with keys to enter the "secret garden."

The napkins were tied with keys to enter the “secret garden.”

What can beat pimento cheese biscuits?

What can beat pimento cheese biscuits? Caterer was Bradford Catered Events.

Salads were colorful.

Salads were colorful.

Chris Crouch and Robin Thomas were at the Moxley Carmichael table.

Chris Crouch and Robin Thomas were at the Moxley Carmichael table.

As were our design director, Charley Sexton, and his wife, Linnie.

As were our design director, Charley Sexton, and his wife, Linnie.

Here's Michael Higdon, left, with Moxley Carmichael V.P. Scott Bird.

Here’s Michael Higdon, left, with Moxley Carmichael V.P. Scott Bird.

The entree was beautiful.

The entree was beautiful.

As was the carrot cake.

As was the carrot cake.

From left, Jo Thigpen, Angie Wilson and Lori Fuller.

From left, Jo Thigpen, Angie Wilson and Lori Fuller.

Joan and Victor Ashe with Lin Christenberry, right.

Joan and Victor Ashe with Lin Christenberry, right.

Dorothy Stair, left, and Betsey Bush.

Dorothy Stair, left, and Betsey Bush.

Fran Scheidt, left, and Georgiana Vines.

Fran Scheidt, left, and Georgiana Vines.

From left, Laura and Mark Heinz, David and Tracy Dewhirst, Evelyn Gill, Ashley Capps and Birgitta Clark.

From left, Laura and Mark Heinz, David and Tracy Dewhirst, Evelyn Gill, Ashley Capps and Birgitta Clark.

Nancy and David Goodson.

Nancy and David Goodson.

Pamela and Dan Chips.

Pamela and Dan Chips.

Marga and Jay McBride.

Marga and Jay McBride.

Rich and Jane Ray with Noel Hudson, in center.

Rich and Jane Ray with Noel Hudson, center.

Scott and Christi Branscom.

Scott and Christi Branscom.

From left, Emma Gross, Martha Ashe and Claire Herrin.

From left, Emma Gross, Martha Ashe and Claire Herrin.

Victor Ashe, standing, with Wanda Moody and Vic Sheldon, who with his wife, Jewell, drove to Knoxville from W. Lafayette, Indiana, because they wanted to support the botanical garden.

Victor Ashe, standing, with Wanda Moody and Vic Sheldon, who with his wife, Jewell, drove to Knoxville from W. Lafayette, Indiana, because they wanted to support the botanical garden.

Emcee for the evening was long-time Knoxville disc jockey Jeff Jarnigan.

Emcee for the evening was longtime Knoxville disc jockey Jeff Jarnigan.

Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, who designed the new garden, made a few remarks at the Green Thumb Gala.

Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, who designed the new garden, made a few remarks.

From left, David Gilbert, Jim Hickok, Jim Samples, Cynthia Gibson, Lori Hickok and Margaret Samples. Jim Samples, Cynthia and Lori are executives at Scripps Networks Interactive.

From left, David Gilbert, Jim Hickok, Jim Samples, Cynthia Gibson, Lori Hickok and Margaret Samples. Jim Samples, Cynthia and Lori are executives at Scripps Networks Interactive.

Auctioneer Bear Stephenson, left, and State Sen. Becky Massey and her husband, Morton, got special thanks for their services. The Masseys handle check out and payment for area non-profits.

Auctioneer Bear Stephenson, left, and state Sen. Becky Massey and her husband, Morton, got special thanks for their services. The Masseys handle check out and payment for area nonprofits. Stephenson raised the money.

It was a sweet evening. I can’t wait to watch the new garden grow.

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12 Responses to Secret garden steeped in Knoxville ‘her-story’

  1. Maria Cornelius, on October 12th, 2016 at 3:23 pm said:

    Beautiful tribute garden – and great history lesson about the book’s author. (I had no idea she had Knoxville ties.)

  2. Dawn Ford, on October 12th, 2016 at 3:27 pm said:

    All right l have to say it. Isn’t Presley the loveliest young lady. We are so proud of that little girl. Thank you Cyn for including her in the blog.

  3. Cynthia Moxley, on October 12th, 2016 at 4:07 pm said:

    Maria: I agree. It was a special evening in many ways.

    Dawn: She is almost grown, isn’t she? I’m just glad she was there. I needed a young person in this one!

  4. Kay Leibowitz, on October 12th, 2016 at 4:54 pm said:

    A beautiful tribute for a special person.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on October 12th, 2016 at 4:57 pm said:

    Kay: It was brilliant to create that garden in Andie’s memory. I can’t think of anything more fitting.

  6. Allyn Schwartz, on October 12th, 2016 at 5:00 pm said:

    As a close friend of Andie Ray’s, I must say how much I missed being there this year. Your beautiful pictures of Andie’s Secret Garden make me teary. Thank you so much for bringing me to the party with your blog!! Such a special place!

  7. Cynthia Moxley, on October 12th, 2016 at 5:08 pm said:

    Allyn: We can visit it next Friday when you and I will both be at the botanical garden. I am very interested in watching how it gets established and changes with the seasons. I think Andie would adore it.

  8. Joan P Ashe, on October 12th, 2016 at 6:36 pm said:

    Cynthia, loved seeing all the pictures! It doesn’t look “hot” on paper. It was a great evening, tribute to Andie, and opening of KBGA’s new Secret Garden. Love Martha’s picture, the girls had a great visit to TYS….. If we are lucky I may get Martha to move home someday!

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on October 12th, 2016 at 8:06 pm said:

    Joan: I hope you do get Martha to move back here! She was one of the best interns Moxley Carmichael has ever had. And, yes, they were adorable.

  10. Gay Lyons, on October 13th, 2016 at 2:15 pm said:

    I hated to miss this event this year. Can’t wait to visit the Secret Garden. It looks lovely.

  11. Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, on October 13th, 2016 at 8:51 pm said:

    You covered this beautifully! One important thing to note about the garden is that is fully accessible as one of the main characters in the book is wheel chair bound before being healed through being in the garden. The boulder sitting room is arranged to accommodate wheelchairs without looking like it!

  12. Cynthia Moxley, on October 13th, 2016 at 10:19 pm said:

    Sara: Thanks for pointing that out. That is wonderful. Makes it even more special.

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