30 Years of Tradition 1

Peachtree Heights East Garden Party

Every first Sunday in May, for the past 30 years, there has been a party at the garden in Buckhead’s Duck Pond Park. Organized by the Ladies of the Lake, the garden club of Peachtree Heights East, the Garden Party is an adults-only event where spring is celebrated on the peninsula of the Duck Pond, amid the beautiful blooming trees and flowers. A treasured neighborhood tradition since 1985, this afternoon celebration is open to the public, residents and friends of neighboring communities. Festive garden party attire abounds replete with hats and bowties.

The Ladies of the Lake Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that is a voluntary association of individuals drawn from the Ladies of the Lake Garden Club membership within the Peachtree Heights East neighborhood of Atlanta. The Foundation’s mission is to protect, nurture and nourish the uniqueness of the in-town area while preserving the beauty and quality of the natural resources available so that all may enjoy a positive quality of life both now and in perpetuity. Grants are available from the Ladies of the Lake Foundation to support efforts to strengthen in-town neighborhoods.

A little over 100 members belong to the Ladies of the Lake Garden Club now. The original two members, dubbed the “ladies of the lake,” would gather at the Duck Pond with their children in the 1940s and help maintain the park. The Ladies of the Lake Garden Club originally dates back to the 1930s, when the women of Peachtree Heights East first banded together to help tend to the upkeep of the Duck Pond Park. In an effort to brainstorm new fundraising ideas, four members of the organization founded the Garden Party, as it is known today.

The first Ladies of the Lake Garden Party was organized and held in 1985. Original founders were Ali Barr, Ashlyn Dugan, Angela Cassidy and Jane Hill (the latter two women continue to live in Peachtree Heights East). The inaugural party was attended by about 75 guests, and featured live chamber music, food donated by local restaurants, an open bar, and a silent auction. Tickets were $10 and proceeds netted a little over $2,000. Famed Atlanta comedian Jerry Farber was the first emcee for the party and continued to entertain guests at the Garden Party well into its third year.

New to the Garden Party this year were Soiree Catering and Events, owned by Peachtree Heights East resident and chef Mary Hataway, who provided scrumptious Southern gourmet delights. The annual waterside event features a fantastic silent auction, with items ranging from trips and private parties to restaurant certificates and items for the home. It includes a popular wine auction, with wines paired and grouped to delight the most discerning connoisseur. Under the graceful branches of the peninsula’s weeping willow trees, guests are serenaded with delightful, live music.

“We plan to continue to grow the organization in size, and continue to volunteer in support of raising much needed funds for the Duck Pond’s maintenance and upkeep,” shares member Mary Chris Murry. “The Garden Club will always remain an integral part of the neighborhood as it continues to tie the neighborhood together socially and engage its members. This neighborhood and the Duck Pond is dear to everyone that lives here, and the Ladies of the Lake are an important part of that bond.”

The Duck Pond Park is one of the most serene, natural environments in Atlanta. Set on nearly seven and a half acres of green space and rolling terrain, the park was created over a century ago as the heart of the Peachtree Heights East neighborhood. Neighborhood developer E. Rivers’ widow deeded the park to the residents of Peachtree Heights East for their use in perpetuity. The Park is supported by residents’ dues, contributions from neighbors, and through fundraising efforts like the Garden Party. Each year, the Ladies of the Lake Garden Club contributes a portion of the proceeds from its Garden Party to Peachtree Heights East Neighborhood Association to help fund the monthly maintenance of the Duck Pond Park. Over the past 30 years, cumulative contributions have amounted to over $225,000.