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Visiting the Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden

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Charlotte is and has been home to some incredible talents, especially writers and landscape architects like Elizabeth Lawrence. Considered one of three of the most important people in horticultural history of the Southeast, Ms. Lawrence poured her heart and soul into the grounds surrounding her home and shared her knowledge with others in her books and newspaper columns.

Elizabeth Lawrence house sign

The Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden is another wonderful destination in Charlotte that is not often spoken of, but should not be missed. As of this writing in 2024, I’ve lived in Charlotte for twelve years, and I’ve never heard of it until I happened across a blurb on a website. Perhaps the secrecy is deliberate, as once you’ve been, you understand how unique and special it is to be able to visit it.

Owned by the Wing Haven foundation, the Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden is included in the admission price at Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary. Just ten houses apart, the stroll in the individual gardens and a visit between the properties takes one back in time to an era of quiet solitude in the garden where time spent is refreshing to mind and spirit. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself both invigorated with new ideas for your own gardens as well as need of a nap due to the restful environment and bit of walking exercise.

Locally and nationally considered a historic landmark, the property exudes with the spirit of Ms. Lawrence. The home has been left as though she has just stepped out for a quick visit to the plant nursery for a few supplies. Her writing desk had me drooling, as I share her need for a window while I work. Everything was just beautiful, and I understand how delightful it must have been to sit for hours at that desk writing as she looked over her garden.

Elizabeth Lawrence desk overlooking garden.
Just look at this space!!! I love everything. EVERYTHING.
Bookcase Elizabeth Lawrence house
Even the bookcases are perfection.
Elizabeth Lawrence watering can
Elizabeth Lawrence watering can. Metal. Can you imagine how heavy it would be with water, too?
Even the door stop is out of a storybook.

From the Smithsonian Institution where the property is included in the The Garden Club of America collection:

Established in 1949 by Elizabeth Lawrence, the property has no lawn. The entire property, only 75×225 feet, includes a parking area, driveway, and house. The remaining space is plantings and pathways. A narrow path between a bamboo hedge and a fence covered with garden tiles provides the garden entrance. In the back, intricately designed partiers are outlined with stone. Numerous seating areas and small statuary are found throughout the garden. Designed for privacy in a neighborhood of close neighbors, Elizabeth Lawrence used the garden as a laboratory and sat at a desk overlooking the garden. The garden was renovated in 1986 and is maintained by a devotee of her work. According to the Garden Conservancy, the structure of the garden remains “essentially the same and as much as sixty percent of Lawrence’s own plantings continue to prosper.” The Friends of the Elizabeth Lawrence Garden, with the Garden Conservancy, was formed to preserve the garden.

Persons and organizations associated with the property include: Elizabeth Lawrence (former owner, 1949-1984), James Sommers (former owner, 1984-1986); Elizabeth Lawrence (landscape designer); David Wagner, AIA (remodel architect); Steve Del Vecchio (gardener); Mecklenburg County Master Gardeners (volunteer project); Charlotte Garden Club, affiliated with Mint Museum (volunteer in garden); and Friends of Elizabeth Lawrence (foundation for preservation).

Check out her great reads:

Two Gardeners: Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence–A Friendship in Letters

No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence

A Garden of One’s Own: Writings of Elizabeth Lawrence

Through the Garden Gate

The Little Bulbs: A Tale of Two Gardens

Gardens in Winter

A Rock Garden in the South

Lob’s Wood

Birds of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County North Carolina

Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener

Beautiful at All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond with Elizabeth Lawrence

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What say you?