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.
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.
Fall flowers at the entrance provided a welcome.
Here’s one of the lovely sitting areas.
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.
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.
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.
Andie’s widower Noel Hudson, left, with friends Kelley Segars and John Craig.
Craig Griffith, left, with Cathy and Mark Hill.
Ralph Cianelli, left, with Mary Thom Adams and Rick Fox.
Judy Loest and Greg Austin.
Deanene Catani, left, with Alan Carmichael and Emily Campen.
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, Craig Griffith, Ashley Capps and Bob Whetsel.
Russ Watkins, left, and Rick Fox.
Presley Ford, left, and her mother Kari, were studying some auction items.
Karen and Harvey White.
The auction items at this event are charming. Like this adorable birdhouse.
And this bear made by a chain saw artist.
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.
Cucumber tea sandwiches seemed a little British in a nod to Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The brie and pear tartlets were delish.
Earl Taylor and Vicki Williams-Baumgartner.
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.
The napkins were tied with keys to enter the “secret garden.”
What can beat pimento cheese biscuits? Caterer was Bradford Catered Events.
Salads were colorful.
Chris Crouch and Robin Thomas were at the Moxley Carmichael table.
As were our design director, Charley Sexton, and his wife, Linnie.
Here’s Michael Higdon, left, with Moxley Carmichael V.P. Scott Bird.
The entree was beautiful.
As was the carrot cake.
From left, Jo Thigpen, Angie Wilson and Lori Fuller.
Joan and Victor Ashe with Lin Christenberry, right.
Dorothy Stair, left, and Betsey Bush.
Fran Scheidt, left, and Georgiana Vines.
From left, Laura and Mark Heinz, David and Tracy Dewhirst, Evelyn Gill, Ashley Capps and Birgitta Clark.
Nancy and David Goodson.
Pamela and Dan Chips.
Marga and Jay McBride.
Rich and Jane Ray with Noel Hudson, center.
Scott and Christi Branscom.
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.
Emcee for the evening was longtime Knoxville disc jockey Jeff Jarnigan.
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.
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.