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. When the school moved to its current location in the mid-1960s, Mimosa Garden Club began work on the present garden. The design and planting of the garden were a joint effort of Frank Smith and Billy Monroe. Price Gilbert, and honorary member of Mimosa, donated the curved stone benches for the garden. In the fall of 1967, The Atlanta Speech School and the Mimosa Garden were dedicated. Since its dedication, Mimosa Garden Club has been responsible for the garden’s maintenance and appearance.
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