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Brian Shivers (immediate past board chairman), Susan Lay Atwell, Dorothy Lay

The Lay Family Garden reopens Saturday, February 28, the first day of Dallas Blooms, providing guests a newly interpreted two-acre garden to visit at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The renovation was made possible by generous gifts from Mimi Lay's two daughters, Susan Lay Atwell and Dorothy Lay, and by additional gifts from the Estate of Ward Lay and Anthony Atwell. The Dallas Arboretum held a ribbon cutting with the family and friends on February 26.


According to the Lay family, “About 25 years ago, the Lay Ornamental Garden was created through the joint efforts of our mother, Mimi, and the Dallas Arboretum.  The garden was one of the first named areas at the Arboretum, and through the years has been one of the most popular sites for everything from casual visits to weddings. In honor of our mother and father, Herman W. Lay, we thought it was time for a reinterpretation of the garden, now named the Lay Family Garden, with new features, while still preserving many of its most popular elements.  We enjoyed the privilege of working with the creative geniuses of the Arboretum staff and are very happy that the garden will soon be open for everyone to enjoy."


Mimi Lay Hodges was known for her own personal breathtaking gardens where she grew many azaleas, so her initial gift was critically important in the early days of the Arboretum.


Restoration work began in early 2014. Noted local landscape architect Warren Johnson of Fallcreek Gardens performed the design and installation of the new garden elements. Renamed and reinterpreted, the Lay Family Garden preserves original iconic elements, such as the waterwalls fountain.  It also features a larger pond, a new grotto and waterfall, and beautiful new horticultural embellishments.


Pathways and Entrances:

The renovation of the Lay Family Garden required several important considerations, all while keeping the original footprint of the garden. The first step was to address the pathways leading to the garden. Before renovation, visitors often missed seeing this gardenas it was somewhat hidden from the Paseo de Flores (main path). The second step was to address the entrances into the garden. Three new entrances now feed into the garden from the Paseo extension linking the Camp House Circle with the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Open parkland connects the garden with the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage and Lawn. Lastly, the Arboretum preserved the former entry courtyard, but it has now become a pocket garden and more of a destination than a passageway. 


Water Features:

One of the most popular features is the native limestone wallswith waterfalls cascading from them. Complementing the waterwalls is a new grotto with a 12-foot waterfall directly across from them. Guests can walk inside the grotto and sit on the benches behind the waterfall for a completely different view. The water gardens are also of great interest and include a large lagoon for aquatic plants, a stream with three weirs and a Koi pond. The mood of the stream changes at each weir division.



The best of the original plants were preserved and planted in the revised planting scheme including Texas mountain laurel-Sophorasecundiflora and Sweet Viburnum-Viburnumawabuki ‘Chindo.’ Interesting new ones were added as well and include Osmanthus x fortunei ‘Carl Wheeler,’ Chinese Snowball-Viburnum macrocephalum, and Spreading Plum Yew-Cephalotaxusharringtonia ‘Prostrata.’ Much space has been dedicated to seasonal plantings, including the Floral Allee that allows a beautiful visual penetration into the heart of the garden.


According to Bill Graue, Dallas Arboretum board chairman,“This truly is an iconic garden, and the Dallas Arboretum is grateful for the Lay family’s continuous involvement and long-standing support.”


About Dallas Blooms:

Dallas Blooms, the largest floral festival in the Southwest, has been a tradition for 30 years, and this year’s theme plays homage to the beloved state: Dallas Blooms: Deep in the Hearts of Texans. The floral festival begins on February 28 and continues through April 12.  This year’s Texas-sized extravaganza features more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs along with life-size Texas themed topiaries, entertainment, food and special activities celebrating Texas. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of Dallas Blooms, with Park Place Dealerships, Celebrity Cruises, Kimberly-Clark, C.C. Young and Tom Thumb as supporting sponsors.


About the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden:

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218.  The Dallas Arboretum is also the home of the internationally acclaimed Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. The Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children 3-12 and free for Arboretum members and children two and under. There is an additional cost of $3 per person for entrance into the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. On-site parking is $15; pre-purchased online parking is $8. The Dallas Morning News is the principal partner of the Dallas Arboretum.  The Arboretum is supported, in part, by funds from the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.  WFAA is an official media sponsor for the Dallas Arboretum.



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