The Mimosa Garden Club of Atlanta was founded in July, 1928, when a group of friends met in the interest of horticulture, the objective being to promote a love for the cultivation and beautification of personal gardens and civic improvements of our city.

Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae. Illustration was published in 1870

Original Members
Mrs. Francis AbreuMrs. Herbert Alden

Mrs. Philip Alston

Mrs. Ten Eyck Brown

Mrs. Price Gilbert

Mrs. Clarence Haverty

Miss May Haverty

Mrs. William Healey, Sr.

Mrs. James Hickey

Mrs. Richard W. Johnson

Mrs. Blewett Lee

Mrs. Alex MacDougaldMrs. Dan MacDougald

Mrs. Edgar A. Neely, Sr.

Mrs. Alfred Newell

Mrs. Vaughn Nixon

Mrs. Joseph Rhodes

Mrs. James L. Riley

Mrs. William Shallenberger

Mrs. Alex Smith

Mrs. Stuart Witham

Mrs. William Shallenberger was chosen as the Club’s first President.  Serving with her were:  Mrs. Ten Eyck Brown, Vice President; Mrs. Dan MacDougald, Secretary, and Mrs. Alex MacDougald, Treasurer.

It was decided that the Club would have 30members, including the 18 charter members.

The grounds of the Scottish Rite Hospital, 321 Hill Street, Decatur, was adopted as the first civic project of the club.

In 1929 Mrs. James L. Riley became President, and the garden at Scottish Rite which was described as a “hole and a hill” was regarded and enlarged to the Club’s specifications and incorporated in a landscape design.

The same year, the Club designated $100,000 for trees on the Atlanta to Rome Highway.

The next year Mimosa assisted Peachtree Garden Club in entertaining the Garden Clubs of America which convened in Atlanta.  Members’ gardens were shown for the benefit of Egleston Children’s Hospital.  $50.00 was given to the brace fund at Scottish Rite Hospital where our garden was beginning to grow in truth and beauty.

The same year flower seeds were donated to the Family Welfare Society.

Mimosa gave $225.00 to the Unemployed Relief fortress and shrubs to be planted on the approaches to Atlanta.

$250.00 was given to the Bi-centennial Celebration Commission of the Founding of the Colony of Georgia, thus becoming a founder of the Commission.

The Club passed resolutions asking enforcement of a law forbidding “plucking of our native shrubs” and favoring appointment of a landscape engineer to plan beautification of Georgia highways.

An exhibit from the University of Georgia Landscape Architectural School was presented at the High Museum of Art by the Mimosa Garden Club.  This exhibit was so popular that the following year the Club presented Dr. T.A. McHatton of the University in a series of lectures on horticulture, open to the public.

In 1934 Mimosa exhibited a Chinese garden and a flower stall at the Atlanta Flower Show and helped entertain delegates to the Garden Clubs of Georgia Convention.

In 1935 the Club’s efforts were concentrated on the garden at Scottish Rite.

In 1936 a new civic project was added.  Mimosa assumed responsibility for designing and building a small garden in the rear of Carnegie Library “to give a quiet spot of restful green in the heart of downtown Atlanta.”

The next year brick walls were laid and the first shrubs were planted in the small library garden.

The same year a rose garden was developed at Scottish Rite Hospital.

In 1938 the membership was expanded to 50.  It was this year that the Club telegraphed Mayor Hartsfield its displeasure at a plan to use white way lamp posts for advertising purposes which the Club felt would be a “great disfigurement to downtown Atlanta.”

In 1940 Mimosa printed a booklet of photographs of the winning arrangements at that year’s flower show and sold them to benefit our gardens at the Library and at Scottish Rite.

Members made and brought arrangements to meetings to have them judged by guests invited to lecture to the Club.

In 1941 the Rose Garden had to be moved to make way for a new wing to be added to Scottish Rite Hospital.  In addition, Mimosa planted 10,000 jonquils and 600 tulip bulbs on the grounds.

It was this same year that 10 of our members volunteered to solicit funds for USO and the Club voted to recommend to the Flower Show Association that “a flower show be held not more often than every two years in view of the world situation.”

In 1942 with the war in progress, Mimosa Club members took flowers to Miss May Haverty’s home each Saturday morning to decorate the USO Club room at the Station.

Our surplus cash was invested in War Bonds. Six lounge chairs and six Christmas trees were sent to Lawson General Hospital.

The Club did an arrangement showing “The American Spirit” for the Junior Flower Show, from which the proceeds went to the Army-Navy Relief Fund.

Meetings were held in alternate months because of tire and gasoline rationing..

Mr. Nelson Crist of Hastings lectured on vegetable gardening.

In the Spring of 1943 Mimosa planted pepper, parsley and tomato plants for the Flower Show Association.  Miss May Haverty gave mimosa trees to Lawson General Hospital

By autumn the lives of members were almost completely disrupted by the war and meetings and dues were discontinued.

In October, 1945, Mrs. James Riley, Mrs. Edgar Neely, Sr. and Miss Harriett Grant received a rising vote of thanks from the re-assembled membership for their work in holding the Club together during the war period.  They had met Mimosa’s financial commitments to Scottish Rite Hospital during the two-year recess.

By spring of 1946, the situation was becoming normal again.  A small Narcissus Show was held and Mr. Crist of Hastings was back, this time to talk on roses.

Benches and a bird bath were placed in the Scottish Rite garden.

In 1947 new grass and cherubs were added.  Mr. Frank Smith was made an honorary member of the Club.  Mrs. Dan MacDougald headed a committee to revise the B-Laws.

In 1948 the Scottish Rite Hospital Board set up a committee to make a long-range plan for the grounds of the hospital.  Mrs. Riley was our Club’s representative on this committee.

In 1949 Mimosa voted to plant mimosa trees and ivy at the new E. River School.  Mrs. Price Gilbert donated a large amount of this material.

This year the Club became a member of the Atlanta Symphony Guild.

In 1951 the Club voted to take part in the beautification of the expressway, and was recorded as against billboards begin allowed.

In 1952 Mr. Frank Smith was asked what should be done to make the Scottish Rite grounds more easily maintained.

This year bird feeding stations were placed in the windows and bird watch books were given by individual Club members to the children at the hospital.

In 1954 the Club voted to require a course in flower arranging for new Club members.  This first of these courses was held in 1955.

It was in 1955 that the Club added $850.00 worth of improvements to the Scottish Rite grounds from the conversion of matured U.S. Bonds purchased during World War II.

In 1956 each member contributed to the Founders Memorial Garden in Athens, to repair and restore the house at the Garden.

In 1957 Mimosa placed flower arrangements at the Atlanta Art Association in front of the Painting-of-the-Month.

By 1958 our Scottish Rite Committee had developed a five-year plan and had completed on section of the three-part plan, replacing hard-to-keep flower beds with bulbs and basic shrubs.

In 1959 a committee was appointed to look into a new project which Mimosa might undertake to replace the Scottish Rite Garden which was far away from the homes of the Club members.  The same committee made contact with the clubs nearer the Hospital to create interest in their taking over the project.

In 1960 the Mimosa Club voted to discontinue the Scottish Rite Hospital grounds civic project and to undertake a small garden at the side of the Atlanta Speech School as our new project.

From 1960 through 1962 the Club’s efforts were devoted to the adoption of the new project and following up the development of plans for the Terrace Garden at the Speech School.

In 1960 Mrs. Vernon Ayers was elected as honorary member, and in 1961, Miss May Haverty.

In 1961 Mimosa won many ribbons at the Atlanta Flower show and was runner-up for the award of merit in the Horticulture Division.  Mimosa was also responsible for the programs for the Flower Show.

Mimosa Garden Club Histories

Karen Sibley – Member since 1947

Karen remembers lovely luncheon meetings where Mrs. Haverty, Mrs.Riley and Mrs. McDougald always sat together on a love seat. In the 50’s Karen proposed our funding go to a children’s program. The proposal was denied by vote, and it was approved that all proceeds from Mimosa events go to garden projects well into the future.

In the late 40’s after the war, Mimosa had dwindled down to a hand full of members. Karen wrote a letter to all members with a well worded, strong challenge to build up our membership and attendance. By the next meeting the attendance had tripled, and the club took in new members every year and grew steadily.

Karen spoke highly of Louise Allen’s love and support  for Mimosa. Her influence and ability to get things done made every project Louise chose a winner. She remembers fondly Marisa Adair and Margo Neely who joined the club from South America and Saranac Lake, New York.

She spoke of a flower show competition where she and Carrie Howell created a garden scene with a white picket fence, a bench and orange geraniums planted all around. At the last minute, Karen threw her orange cashmere sweater across a bench and propped her tennis racket at just the right spot. Next to their entry was an elaborate Italian garden scape created by the Fleming gals from another garden club. Karen’s entry won 1st place, and when she told the story, the other garden club was fuming over the  simple addition of a tennis racket and sweater which stole the show.

For years every new members had to take a flower arranging class. In competition, Karen added a sprig of ivy to a copper pot and won 3rd place.

Betty Smith –  Member since 1950

Betty remembers dressy Mimosa luncheons when dresses were always worn; pants were for horse back riding!

Betty’s grand daughter, Rawson Grobety, suggested that Betty share with Mimosa members the two books she had written on her life and that of her mother, Elizabeth Rawson Haverty. The books shed light on growing up in Atlanta in from the 20’s through the 40’s. Mrs. Haverty was a founding member of Mimosa along with 18 others in 1928.

Betty grew up on Cherokee Road and remembers a backyard with a pond and paths laid out like those at the Biltmore Estate. There was a rose and rock garden with tiny plants peeking out of the rocks, a grape arbor and formal round garden. Betty said she loved animals more than gardening in those days, and she had rabbits, ducks, chickens and two alligators delivered in boxes by the post office. Imagine that.

Her grandfather, J.J. Haverty lived at 2734 Peachtree Road called “ dead man’s curve”. Across the street was the KKK Imperial Headquarters. There were apple and persimmon trees on the property. Mr. Haverty named his residence “Villa Clair” for his wife Clair Malone. Two stone lions flanked the front entrance. There was a rock quarry in the back yard and paths lined with lily-of-the-valley. Betty found a civil war bayonet in the quarry dating back to the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

Betty Bowering –  Member since 1954 – Past President 1966

Betty has fond memories of the creation of the Speech School garden and playground. She noted that in 1959 Scottish Rite had been Mimosa’s fund raising project, but when our mission had been achieved, the Atlanta Speech School and its grounds became our main project. In 1964 the Speech School moved its location from Peachtree Road to its present location on Northside Parkway. Before the new building was completed, the Speech School board voted to construct a playground funded by Mimosa Garden Club members. In 1962 Mimosa raised the initial funding of $2500. via a party held at Laura Smith’s home.

The tickets were $2. Pink peonies highlighted the beautiful, successful party.

Betty remembers the the dedication of the playground and garden in 1967. She had been in charge of paying all the bills for completing the garden work. Billy Monroe was the garden designer and Frank Smith planted all the various materials. Mrs. Jack Glenn chose the minister of St. Luke’s Church to bless the new playground with the Speech School children present.

Today when the children walk to playground, they pass through the wonderful garden that Mimosa created. Betty was a spearhead and hard worker who made sure the Speech School garden and playground became a reality.

Bettye Maddox –  Member since 1960 –  President 1967

Bettye’s year as president coincides with completion of the Speech garden and playground. Bettye and her committee oversaw the final plantings in the garden including three sugar maples one of which has graced the garden for fifty years. She commissioned sculptor Jill Sanders to create a statue as the centerpiece for the garden. Jill caste a bronze statue in Spain and titled it “Girl with Dog”. The statue sits in the heart of the garden today and was a gift from Bettye’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Baxter Maddox.

Over the years Bettye has overseen the maintenance and refurbishing of the garden plantings. In 2001 Margaret Tarver asked Bettye how much was needed to replant most of the garden. Bettye accepted $25,000. from Mrs. Tarver, and the garden was renewed.

Mimosa’s members dedicate days of the year to work in the garden, which also serves as an outdoor classroom for the children.

Bettye has fond memories of Kitty Hamm, who founded the Speech School 75 years ago. Kitty honored her hard of hearing son by creating a school where children would be taught and nourished. Kitty and Glynn Ryman were “hands on” in the early days. They sewed costumes for the  children’s annual May Day dance. Bettye also remembers working with Isabel Hines and Julia Hand over the years.

Bettye praised Comer Yates, the director of the Speech School, for making Mimosa feel tat we have been an integral part of the school spirit and growth.  She said Comer appreciates Mimosa’s love for the children.

During Bettye’s reflections she focused on Mimosa’s members and their families continued commitment to the school as well the remarkable ties that bind us together. She wanted to pay special tribute to many who have given so much. These are the members who have served on the Speech School board and those who have been loving supporters:

Betty Glenn, Betty Bowering, Marisa Adair, Mrs. Haverty, Mrs. Riley, Josephine Robinson, Ann Glen, Dee McElroy, Sara Kennedy, Caroline Davis, Ann Jones, Anen Spalding, Anne Kenan, Mary Ann Frazier, Margaret Tarver and Sally Allen.

Anne Spalding –  Member since 1956 –  President 1975

Anne stressed the importance of the Rock Quarry Garden history and urges new members to study and become aware of its origins. She helped promote the initial concept of turning the old, overgrown quarry into a remarkable garden for all to enjoy. Anne said Louise Allen was passionate about creating a park like setting in the quarry which was destined to be a parking lot for the new History Center. Louise was able to save the property due in part to her relatives who lived next to the quarry in the Swan House.

Anne said Louise was like a jet propelled hero. Once she conceptualized what the quarry could become, the stage was set.

The quarry project spanned three years. Louise and her hardworking team began by hiring native plant expert Gene Cline. He had an amazing garden in North Georgia. Mimosa members visited Mr. Cline’s gardens and walked the paths laden with native and rare species.

Mr. Cline studied the habitats that existed in the quarry such as a bog area, wet areas from a natural spring, and sun and shade areas. He chose a wide variety of native plant materials such as pink ladies slipper, venus fly trap, and native scrubs and trees as well. Anne said she worked along with Mimosa volunteers for weeks on end and finally placed identification markers on each new addition. She expanded her knowledge of plants from working in the quarry and learned to identify species using the Latin name.

Anne’s husband, Jack Spalding, who was editor of the Atlanta Journal from 1957 to 1978, was an avid gardener since childhood. Anne shared that he brought a live oak from their property in St. Simons along with sand and shale and planted it as an experiment at their home in Atlanta.

Anne’s love for Mimosa is evident today in the beautifully aging Rock Quarry Garden.

Pattie Boykin –  Member since 1954

Patti has gathered and kept Mimosa yearbooks dating back to 1954. She reflected back on the early days when talented Helen Ayers Smith had a room in her house on Tuxedo Road devoted to flower arranging. She taught our members creative floral designs and the point system for judging at flower shows.

In 1957 Pattie escorted 14 Mimosa members to Ida Cason’s gardens in Pine Mountain. Her bare land was being planted with tiny trees and scrubs which would later become Calloway Gardens.

Edith Henderson, a garden lecturer and designer, taught Mimosa members how to make potpourri in jars at the home of Mrs. Griffin Bell. Patti’s favorite home was Josephine Robinson’s Italian villa on West Paces Ferry. The ornate architecture and lovely gardens were a perfect setting for Mimosa’s biannual garden party.

In 1973 past president, Babs Atkins, convinced Pattie to begin work on a cook book with the sales proceeds going to the Atlanta Speech School. The cookbook brought in $5000., and there were three printings from 1973 to 1977.

Mimosa tried to have breakfast meetings in the early 60’s and dues were $5.00 in the 50’s.


1972 – 1986

In 1972, the Atlanta Historical society began planning a new administration Building, and while searching for a site, rediscovered a 3-acre, late 19th century rock quarry, choked with unwanted plants and fallen tree trunks.  Members of the Mimosa Garden Club were intrigued with the possibilities of developing a unique wild garden.

After a rudimentary attack on the overgrowth, a veritable outdoor cathedral was revealed – its dome formed by branches of towering trees and its walls, the rocky cliffs of the quarry.  Mimosa’s project finding committee concluded as follows:  “We see the area as a spot for visitors to enjoy a measure of quiet seclusion, with an opportunity to learn native plant material and birds, a well as connecting the new McElreath Hall, Swan House and the Tuille Smith House Restoration.”

In 1973, Mimosa decided to make the Quarry Garden a permanent project and chose Gene Cline of Canton, Georgia, one of America’s finest horticulturists, to supervise the final clearing, suggest pans for the path system and drainage as well as to handle selection and planting of native shrubs, trees and flowers.

An initial amount of $1,888 had been spent on exploratory clearing and drainage, followed by $6,000 raised in 1973 at the biennial garden party.  Before actual planting could begin, work came to an unexpected halt, due to the townhouse development upstream, which sent the run-off from Sears’ large parking lot as well as it s own, into the gentle quarry stream, turning it into a ravaging torrent during heavy rains and leaving a muddy disaster.  After a year of lawsuits, the stream was re-engineered and planting resumed in 1975.

In the fall of 1975, a sizeable grant was received form Price Gilbert, Jr. Charitable Fund, which would enable Mimosa to complete the quarry garden sooner than originally expected. The rock quarry was dedicated on March 23, 1976 and named in honor of Mary Howard Gilbert, a founding member of Mimosa and mother of Price Gilbert, Jr.

There are over 150 varieties of native plants in the garden including fine specimens of native azalea and a plantation of 1,200 fern, many holding the raw banks, along with the hydrangeas and hypericum.  The flowers are planted in a naturalistic manner – in colonies – and the beds follow the terrain, outlined by rustic paths.  The center bog garden has native bog plats from South Georgia such as sarracenia (pitcher plant), buttonbush, bald cypress and golden club. Some of these have disappeared during the past two summers of intense drought, but will be replaced now that a moist summer has brought relief and since a sprinkler system is being planned.

Each spring and summer, weeds have presented a monumental problem, but garden club members, led by Anne Spalding and Sandy Craft, have railed to the continuing maintenance.  During the past two years valuable help from Allen Sistrunk and Historical maintenance has been available.

Horticultural groups, school groups, interested visitors and friends are enjoying the peace and beauty of the quarry.  A “Guide to the quarry Garden” was published by Mimosa in 1978, funded by the proceeds of an earlier spring party.  The delightful pen and ink drawings of wildflowers were the work of Sallie Smith, then President of the Club, and compilation of the booklet was accomplished by Louise Allen, Marian Hilsman and Anne Spalding.  Since publication, plants have been added and some have disappeared, so an up-to-date booklet may be desirable in the future.

The amazing amount of over $7,000 raised from the 1982 spring Meadow Lark will be used to install a sprinkler system, refurbish the path system with fresh bark next spring, and pay for adding considerable plant material during this fall and winter.  The rock quarry will play a special part in the programs connected with the landscape and gardening design exhibition, “Land of Our Own,” celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of Georgia.

Early and current photographs, as well as more specific details of the quarry development are compiled in a scrapbook, readily available to any interested member.  Please get to know your quarry and tell your friends to come and enjoy it.  There is something of interest during every month of the year!

In 1982, the Club hired Raleigh Bryans as horticulturist of the Quarry.  Raleigh has planted over 50 new specimen wildflowers native to Georgia and expanded other plantings through propagation.  In 1986, plant markers for each specimen and an attractive English garden bench were purchased.

The quarry continues to grow in reputation with local photographers and botanists as a tranquil place of rest and study-especially in early spring when lady slippers and shortia are blooming.

Mrs. Ivan Allen, Jr.

Mrs. George Sherrill, Jr.



The Mimosa Garden Club’s official association with the Atlanta Speech School began in 1960 when the club voted to undertake, as its civic project, a small garden at the Speech School which was then located in the old Haverty Home on Peachtree Road.  It was evident from the beginning that funds would be needed from time to time to maintain and improve the garden.  In 1962 the Club’s By-Laws were amended to establish a special fund for the Speech School Garden.  In 1963 Mimosa held its first Spring Cocktail Party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward D. Smith and raised $2,500 for the Atlanta Speech School Mimosa Fund.

In 1964 The Speech School announced plans to move from the Haverty home to a new and modern building to be constructed on Northside Parkway.  Mimosa suspended further upkeep on its small existing garden and began to accumulate funds raised by its spring parties of 1963, ’64 and ’66 for a garden at the new Speech School.

Because of its close relationship with the Speech School, Mimosa was given its choice of location for the Mimosa Garden Club Garden. Club members reviewed plans of the new school, and with the help of Frank Smith, an honorary member of Mimosa, chose the site of our present garden. The design and planting of the garden was a joint effort of Frank Smith and Billy Monroe.  The garden club committee worked during the spring and Sumer of 1967 choosing slow growing evergreens and ground cover that would make an interesting year-round garden.  Price Gilbert, an honorary member of Mimosa, gave the curved stone benches for the garden.  In the fall of 1967, The Speech School and the Mimosa Garden were dedicated.  In 1968, Mrs. John Maddox and her committee commissioned Jill Sanders to do the bronze “Girl with Dong” for the garden.  The statue was the gift of Mrs. Baxter Maddox.

Since the completion of the Mimosa Garden at The Speech School, Mimosa has had a speech school garden committee which has the responsibility for the garden’s appearance and maintenance.  For several years a requirement of the Club was that all active members devote two days annually to work in the garden.  The Club also makes a proportionate contribution, along with other garden clubs, to a landscape fund for the maintenance of The Speech School grounds.  The Speech School relies on Mimosa to maintain its two extensive projects as it is not self-sustaining and must rely on other for a large part of its operating budget.

In the spring of 1971, the members of Mimosa voted to use money accumulated in the Mimosa Garden Fund to do a beginning layout for a playground at The Speech School.  During the spring of 1971, a committee appointed for this purpose reviewed plans submitted by students of the University of Georgia School of Landscape, the Atlanta Art School and others. The committee’s final choice was a plan submitted by Billy Monroe who had also designed the layout of the Garden.

It was originally planned to do the playground section by section as funds became available, but Mrs. Jack Glenn suggested the ideas that the playground e built in honor of Mimosa’s founding members, many of whom had been actively involved in the beginning of The Speech School.  It was felt that families of the founding members would want to have a part in making the playground a reality and if sufficient funds could be raised, the playground could be built in its entirety rather than bit by bit.  Through the diligent efforts of Mrs. Glenn, the committee and the generosity of many members and friends, this was one.  The Mimosa Founders playground was dedicated on May 25, 1972 with the unveiling of a plaque honoring our founding and early members.

The Founders Memorial playground was recognized by the Fulton County Federation of Garden Clubs as the Best Civic Project of 1973 and was also honored in 1975 by receiving the Hubert B. Owens Deep South School Ground Improvement award.

The tree house and abstract and climbers were added in 1975 and several areas were re-landscaped and replanted.  This addition was made possible through the generosity of the husbands of sustaining members of Mimosa of 1975, in honor of their wives.

Over the next 25 years, the Speech School Garden Committee continued to maintain and beautify the garden, which as largely unchanged.  While the garden continued to proved a natural backdrop to the Speech School Board room and serve as an outdoor classroom for many of the students and teacher, it was becoming overgrown and in need of many repairs.  In 2001, Mrs. Jack Tarver made a remarkably generous donation to totally restore the garden.  With Mrs. John Maddox leading the way, the garden was replanted to again make it a beautiful oasis for the Speech School.  Additionally, through the generosity of Mrs. Tarver, a statue of Mr. Tarver’s beloved Scottish terrier named Duchess was placed in the garden and a new tradition was born!  Each day the Keenan preschool children pet Duchess as the pass by on the way to the playground.

Through the years there have been strong ties between Mimosa and the Speech School.  Hopefully the Mimosa Garden Club as made a lasting contribution to the Speech School through the development of its Mimosa Garden and Founders Playground, and its continued maintenance of the Garden.

Mrs.  D.B. Bowring

Mrs. Bryan E. Davis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *