A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon “Near or Far…There Is No Place Like Home”

Featured photo: Mary Brinegar, President and CEO, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; Suzanne Millet, Chair, A Writer’s Garden 2020; Kay Weeks, President, Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; Empress Gilbert, Presenting Sponsor.*

The event benefited The Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden
Diane Sealy, Honorary Chair | Suzanne Millet, Chair | Kay Weeks, President

The 14th Annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon “Near or Far … There Is No Place Like Home” was a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable experience benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden.

Diane Sealy, Honorary Chair and Home Hostess; Patti Flowers

Presented by Empressive Earth Gallery as Diamond Sponsor with Diane Sealy as honorary chair, the event was chaired by Suzanne Millet and featured James Farmer, Southern author and interior designer, who discussed his new book, Arriving Home-A Gracious Southern Welcome and Dallas’ own Lisa Fine, founder of Lisa Fine Textiles, which specializes in hand printed linens that are sold in sixteen showrooms worldwide and author of Near & Far: Interiors I Love.

The morning’s virtual symposium began with a lovely video featuring aerial and close-up views of A Woman’s Garden. The focus was then on Jocelyn White, Mistress of Ceremonies, as she welcomed everyone to the DeGolyer House at the Dallas Arboretum and into the library where Kay Weeks, Women’s Council president, gave a brief history of the mansion and the Women’s Council. Suzanne thanked Empress Gilbert and Micah Gilbert for their presenting sponsorship as a short video gave a brief tour of their gallery. Jocelyn introduced Lisa Fine, who began with an overview of her book, a collection of homes all over the world that have inspired her textile collection.

Carol Welwood, Mary Griggs, Empress Gilbert, Presenting Sponsor; Regina Bruce, Kunthear Mam-Douglas

Lisa’s book features homes of people who are avid travelers, avid readers, and passionate gardeners where the homes feature these hobbies rather than the design schemes themselves. They are timeless and classic, evolving over time. Her design adventures began in Paris and took her all over the world, including India, London, Greece, Sweden and more where she was inspired by the colors, textures and patterns, designs with a twist and a touch of the exotic and bizarre. She featured fabulous photos of her own apartment in New York, her mother’s home here in Dallas and shared personal stories of her adventures and friendships, including Lee Radziwill and Rose Tarlow.

Lisa Fine
James Farmer at home

James Farmer began his virtual presentation from his home, Farmdale Cottage in Perry, Georgia, seated in the garden and enjoying one of his favorite refreshments, Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade, which is featured in one of his books, Sip & Savor.  He said his new book is what he wants to convey, the sense of arriving home. Home tugs at our heartstrings with scent, memories, food, flowers and sounds. He shared delightful stories of growing up in a small town and tied those stories into the history behind the design of his own home where he mixes antiques with found items, family heirlooms and new purchases.

Eleanor Casey, Suzanne Caruso, Home Hostess
The Scene at Suzanne Caruso’s Home

As an extra treat, underwriters at certain levels received flowers and greenery delivered by Junior Villanueva’s Garden Gate matching the demonstration James gave on arranging, as they created their own arrangement along with him.

Joan Perry, Sarah Hardin, Venise Stuart, Home Hostess. Back Row: Fonda Arbetter, Mary Jo Lincicome, Pepsi Windland, Rose Gault
Kathy Weber with floral arrangement

Suzanne ended the symposium by giving heartfelt thanks to her committee, saying it was an honor and privilege to have served as chair of this wonderful event. She thanked Kay for her inspiration and encouragement during the planning of A Writer’s Garden.

After the presentations, home hostesses and their guests enjoyed luncheons provided by Preston Hollow Catering.

Sponsors included Silver Sponsors Suzanne Caruso, Diane Sealy. Bronze Sponsors were Nancy McDonnell Harlin, Mary MacRae, Suzanne Millet, Katherine Weber and Kay Weeks. Table Hosts were Becky Burgett, Suzanne Caruso, Nancy Cates, Kathy Cothrum, Melanie Cowlishaw, Empressive Earth Gallery, Lisa Fine, Carmen Hancock, Nancy Harlin, Linda Huffhines, Sue John, Lisa Laughlin, Mary MacRae, Dorothea Meltzer, Suzanne Millet, Vicki Petersen, Katherine Phillips, Diane Sealy, Joanie Stephens, Venise Stuart, Betty Suellentrop, Mary Lynn Vaughan, Sharon Walker, Katherine Weber and Kay Weeks.

Katherine Phillips, Home Hostess; Janet Sue Rush

The raffle featured Showstopping Mad Hatter’s Custom Tea Dress designed by Patti Flowers Design Studio, Exquisite Opal Doublets & Diamond Earrings by Howard Donsky Fine Jewelry; an Exceptionally Wonderful Custom Hat by Bay Willow Design; Personalized Home Rendering includes Note Cards and up to Three Additional Prints by Sandy Watson; “Tea for Four” with Champagne Service at the DeGolyer Tea Room featuring a Fresh Floral Arrangement in a McKenzie-Childs Courtly Check Tea Kettle, the tea kettle was donated by Suzanne Roberts; “Spruce up your Home” package complete with gourmet wines and delicacies, Home design service by Kay Troutt of KST Design, Kitchen design services by Helene Terry of Helene’s Luxury Kitchens, and gift cards from Jackson’s Home & Garden and Mary Cates. 

National media sponsor was FLOWER Magazine. Media sponsors were My Sweet Charity, The Scout Guide Dallas and Estate Life Magazine.  Very special thanks went to Maurice Ballew, MCB Videos.
Membership in the Women’s Council is open to the community and has many benefits, including special events for members only, invitations to private parties and more. Check the website for more details www.womenscouncildallasarboretum.org

ABOUT THE WOMEN’S COUNCIL:  Since 1986 the major goal of the Women’s Council has been the design, construction, funding and endowment of A Woman’s Garden, the only public garden in the United States conceived by women, funded by the efforts of women and dedicated to the spirit of women. The support of over 500 members of the Women’s Council makes possible the continued expansion and development of A Woman’s Garden. The Women’s Council is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  www.WomensCouncilDallasArboretum.org

ABOUT A WOMAN’S GARDEN: A Woman’s Garden is the only garden in the nation conceived, constructed and maintained by the funding efforts of women. Ablaze with color in every season, A Woman’s Garden sits majestically as a living testament to the passion and vision of the Women’s Council founders and the boundless energy and devotion of its members whose commitment to creating a garden dedicated to the universal spirit of women across generations is realized in its inspired design. Our beautiful garden celebrates the power, creativity, resourcefulness, passion and unwavering commitment of the women who came before us and those entrusted with its care now, and into the future.

*Photos by Dana Driensky and Daniel Driensky

(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, is honored to represent A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon.)


Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly SocialWhirl.com), the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.