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Visiting the Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden

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).

https://sova.si.edu/record/aag.gca/ref12967?q=elizabeth%20lawrence&t=W

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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Visiting Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary

Tucked in the hustle and bustle of Charlotte, Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary provides a return and connection to nature that is wrapped in a story of love and commitment. Elizabeth and Edwin Clarkson lived an incredible love story that forged an urban oasis for nature and nature lovers. The grounds of the garden feel intimate while encouraging visitors to slow down and enjoy the sounds and sights all around. This secret garden feels like a portal to another time, as one can focus on the sound of the breeze in the branches above, the industrious work of the birds and squirrels, and the scents of the blooming flowers that awaken senses of delight that may have been in hibernation for far too long.

The home that Edwin built for Elizabeth, to her specifications no less, continues to stand with authority and grace on Ridgewood Avenue, a testament to the shared dream they had of their future together and the importance of creating space for the event the smallest that nature offers. The three acres feel much larger, as the paths encourage visitors to take a turn this way or that, for either side will not disappoint. You’ll lose time meandering around the plants, finding yourself remembering gardens and people of your past. It feels too special to rush and yet, time passes quickly without notice. Every part of you engages in this tour of the gardens, and you may find yourself both refreshed and tired from the stimulation of your senses. It is that “good tired” one feels when the only activation of the nervous system has been pleasant and fulfilling.

Read the Journals of Elizabeth Clarkson, dating from February 1933 to November 1951.

Don’t forget to visit the Elizabeth Lawrence Home and Garden (check out my visit), as it is included in the admission of Wing Haven.

Elizabeth was a concert pianist, and her performances at the piano were a delight in their home. The piano takes center stage in the front room, as it is the first thing one sees upon entering the home. The window to the back tucks into the wall, allowing Elizabeth to roll her piano outside to play for visitors on the back lawn. A bird caregiver, she often played the piano with birds resting on her arms as she danced upon the keys. One would expect nothing less from this dynamic duo who gave their all to the animals and land they loved.

Back of the house. Elizabeth would roll her piano out onto the patio.
Side of the house reflected in the koi pond.

One of my favorite items to look for are the quotations that are sprinkled around the property.

Discover more about this hidden gem in our beautiful city of Charlotte! There are a number of books available about the property and the Elizabeth Lawrence Home and Garden down the road.

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

Clemson has a beautifully written garden profile available for reading.

Price: $10 for ages 11 and older; 10 and younger are free; an annual membership is also available

Be sure to keep up with their events, as they host many of them, including FREE Admission days like the one coming up on Earth Day!

Wing Haven is a 501(c)(3) organization.

“Wing Haven’s purpose is to maintain and develop its
properties located in Charlotte, North Carolina as a garden and bird sanctuary for the use, education,
and enjoyment of the community and to stimulate interest in horticulture.” Wing Haven Foundation, Inc.

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Traveling Author: Epicentre Studio Movie Grill

Epicentre Studio Movie Grill seats

Charlotte has some great movie theaters, and one of my favorites is the Studio Movie Grill at the Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte.

Check out my view from my sweet seats in the theater.

Movie time! #theaccountant #Charlotte #movie

A photo posted by Jeannie M Bushnell (@jmbushnell) on

What Makes it Unique

Studio Movie Grill has the first-run movies you want and alternative/retro movies you can’t wait to see on the big screen. The in-theater dining includes the old popcorn favorite, but they have a full menu to order from, including a black bean burger for your veggie friends! There is a full-service bar, too.

As the video below shows, you push the little button on your seat table and an SMG team member appears at your seat and takes your order. You now sit back and relax in the reclining seats and enjoy the movie. Your food arrives hot (unless you order something chilled) and freshly made. The servers are not a distraction during the movie, and surprisingly enough, the smell of the various foods being eaten are not bothersome. Unless your bladder alerts you, you won’t have to leave your seat for a refill or to purchase the food. All transactions are brought to your seat.

Discounted Tickets

Studio Movie Grill frequently runs a promotion on Groupon for $5.00 movie tickets. If you are like me, and you consider movie tickets to be a nice treat, then you will want to scoop up the frugal ticket price when you see it on Groupon. At 51% off the regular price of a ticket, you will find yourself treating your friends and family to a night on the town and a movie.

Please note, food is not included in the Groupon ticket price, and you cannot use the Groupon discount toward food.

There are restrictions on the Groupon ticket purchase.  For example, the tickets are not valid for movies at 5pm or later on Friday – Sunday. They cannot be used for Special Event movies, Crowd Sourcing, or Film Series Movies. There are extra fees for 3D movies. See the link above for additional restrictions.

Buy Tickets in Advance or in Person

If you are attending a movie where you may be running late, or you anticipate the theater will be full, then you may want to redeem the Groupon tickets online and reserve the exact seat that you want (a $1.50 convenience fee/seat applies).

Otherwise, have your Groupon ticket ready to redeem at the counter, and you can pick your seat from the ones still available. You will know going into the theater what seat number you will be sitting in. Pretty cool, eh?

Parking

Parking in Uptown isn’t scary at all once you realize that SMG validates parking (up to 4 hrs)  in the self-parking area of the EpiCentre parking deck for guests of Studio Movie Grill. Valet parking will not be validated.

Be sure to check out the other restaurants and stores at the Epicentre. Fun events happen every day of the week, and if you are still hungry after the movie, you can swing into Five Guys and feed your french fry addiction. I know I’m not the only one who loves a potato.

Studio Movie Grill Experience from Studio Movie Grill on Vimeo.

Location and Phone

210 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202

704-972-1062

 

 

Check out some of the views you can see at the Epicentre!

uptown charlotte
uptown charlotte epicentre

#Charlotte sky is dark and cloudy. #sky #clouds #night

A photo posted by Jeannie M Bushnell (@jmbushnell) on

 

 

This post contains affiliate links that help to support me and my french fry habit.

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Traveling Author: Bechtler by Night Scavenger Hunt

Jeannie M. Bushnell Draws her version of a sam francis self portrait

Photo of the Firebird at the Bechtler Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina

As someone still new to the Charlotte scene, I’m always searching for fun and affordable events to attend within the city. One of my favorite places to find information that fits within those parameters is the Charlotte on the Cheap list that Jody Mace compiles. One of the events that she recently listed is Bechtler by Night.

The Bechtler museum is in Uptown Charlotte and open Monday through Sunday. I’ve had plans to make it out there before, but something always comes up, and I find the hours are just not workable for me. I’m obviously not alone, as the Bechtler by Night event exists for those like me who can’t seem to make it to the museum during the regular business hours.

Once a month, on the third Friday of the month, the Bechtler museum opens from 5 pm until 9 pm for a night of art appreciation wrapped in fun activities and prizes. The event makes for a wonderful date or outing with family and friends.

Unsure of what to expect when we arrived, my friend and I found a bustling museum entry filled with people in line to receive their bingo cards and sheets for a scavenger hunt. If you are one of the first 100 people to return the completed scavenger hunt and bingo card, you will be offered the chance to draw from a raffle box and win a prize!

As you walk through the museum hunting for the answers to the questions on the scavenger hunt page, you find yourself reading the descriptions for the art and looking at the art in an entirely new way than you have before. As a lover of museums, I’ve frequented my fair share, but this event encourages us to take the time to really read about the artists and the works rather than just scan the room and do a quick glance at each piece as we pass them by without a notice of much else.

The current exhibitions feature Sam Francis: Rapid Fluid Indivisible Vision (on view until March 7, 2016) and The Art of the Print (on view until June 19 2016). This was my first introduction to Francis, an Abstract Expressionist artist, and I found myself enamored with his techniques and works.

On the back of the scavenger hunt sheet, you are asked to draw a quick sketch of your favorite work of art in the museum. I chose a self portrait of Sam Francis. The obscure sadness just called to me.

Jeannie M. Bushnell Draws her version of a sam francis self portrait

I applaud the museum for creating an event that invites patrons to engage with the art in a new way. The modest size of the collections at the museum are ideal for this type of event. The museum is not expansive like The Smithsonian, and this helps prevent the patrons from feeling overwhelmed by the game. My friend and I were two of the lucky ones to finish the scavenger hunt before all the prizes were awarded, and we won two passes to the museum! Other prizes included items from the museum gift shop and tickets to jazz performances at the museum.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night at the Bechtler museum, and I can’t wait to return for future nights of Friday fun at the museum.

More information about Sam Francis at the Sam Francis Foundation.
Here are the future 2016 dates for the event:

March 18
April 15
May 20
June 17
July 15

Price: Free

Parking: Don’t fret – if you park at the Levine Center for the Arts Parking Garage, you will pay $5.00 and the museum is just a scant walk across the road. More information about parking can be found on the Duke Energy Center page.

Food and drink: Check out a menu and times for The Modern Cafe at the Bechtler

Normal Museum Hours and Admission:

Monday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Closed for major holidays (New Year’s day, Thanksgiving day, Christmas day)

Check out their regular admission prices, but please note:
Active-duty and retired military personnel,
National Guard, Reserve and their families get in Free!

Check out what people are saying on Yelp!

bechtler museum outside from the inside

The first image is of the Firebird, a permanent fixture in the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art collection.

Blue Balls art print by Sam Francis:

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Traveling Author: SCarowinds

terrified man

 

 

scarowinds sign

Starting in September, Carowinds becomes SCarowinds. It is a haunting event for the young and old!

scarowinds tree
A spooky old tree greets park attendees. SCarowinds 2015.

 

Scaredy Pumpkin

 

scared pumpkin

 

For $8.00, you can purchase a plastic necklace that features a glowing pumpkin to alert the costumed employees that you do not want to be scared. I know, there are some of you who think this is ridiculous. After all, you’ve come to SCarowinds to be scared, right? Well, while I didn’t purchase one of the necklaces (because I think they cost too much and I didn’t see them offered until I was leaving the park), having had the experience of the employees getting a little too close for comfort and screaming in my face, I can see the value of purchasing such a necklace.

No, I don’t like to be scared. I like to stand back and admire the scary displays and costumes, but I do not like to be screamed at or grabbed, and I’m not a fan of someone coming up behind me in a darkened walkway to scare the crap out of me. Nope, not a fan.

terrified man

Mazes and Scare Zones

I went through the Seventh Ward maze (aka haunted house), and had the actors refrained from shouting in my face or reaching into my personal space, I would have enjoyed it. The strobe lights and mirrored walls didn’t help. The maze is indoors and very detailed and interesting, but I couldn’t enjoy it due to the constant onslaught of people screaming in my face.

I didn’t want to go in any other mazes after touring the scary “mental institution” that I’d raced to get through. My friends (two adult males in their 40s) went through the Cornstalkers maze (which they found scarier than the Seventh Ward), and the Zombie High maze (which they also found spine-tingling).

There are also established scare zones. The Bloodyard resembles a junkyard where you are surrounded by thirsty vampires waiting to turn you into one of their own. The London Terror scare zone doesn’t look too bad, but the small area in which there is to walk, and the mass of costumed characters waiting to scream at you make it less than a welcoming stroll down the streets of London.

If you love haunted houses, I think you will love SCarowinds. If you don’t, I think you should invest in a glowing pumpkin necklace or just skip SCarowinds and stay home where you can watch a scary movie with the mute button depressed to prevent hearing the horrible scary music and sounds from reaching your sensitive ears and heart. Is that just me?

 

rip buckley train car
A painted train car speaks of the death of Buckley. RIP Buckley the cat. – located in the Bloodyard Scare Zone

 

skeleton key

Delights for the Ears and Eyes

The employee costumes and makeup is definitely my favorite thing about the SCarowinds experience. With over six hundred monsters to create for the event, the work of the makeup artists really shines. Read more on the SCarowinds blog to discover what goes on behind the mask. The article states that each artist is given 8 – 12 minutes to complete the makeup, and as someone who has toiled for hours to get Halloween makeup 1/2 as good as what the employees of the park are sporting, I am amazed at how quickly it all comes together every night of the event.

There are a number of shows offered for the event. I attended the Tribal Terror drum show and I enjoyed it immensely. The musicians did a great job. Showtimes are 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Rated PG-13, Leave Your Costume at Home, & You May Not Re-enter

The park states that the event is rated PG-13 and may be too intense for young children. I saw plenty of small children in the park enjoying themselves, but I know that won’t be the case for all young children. The younger children (or scared adults) can always come to Carowinds during the day before SCarowinds opens in the evening, and there is even a Great Pumpkin Fest to enjoy.

There is one extremely odd caveat to the SCarowinds event: guests cannot re-enter the park if they leave for any reason. It is normal for Carowinds guests to receive a stamp on the arm upon exiting so they can re-enter the park during the same-day visit with ease and no extra charge. This is not happening for SCarowinds. Everyone is held captive to this rule, so don’t think you are exempt Gold Card Members. I’m not sure why they’ve put this new rule in place, but that means guests can’t take a break to exit the park during their SCarowinds visit. What makes the SCarowinds event so special that guests cannot leave the park and return? I have no idea. If you find out, let me know. I asked several employees during my visit but none seemed to understand the arbitrary rule, either.

Darkness & Security

The park is too dark during SCarowinds. The regular low lighting that is used at night is made worse by colored bulbs and fog machines that occasionally make it hazardous to walk. There was security presence at the park, but the two people I saw aren’t enough for such a large crowd. The lack of security is one of the features that most people find disconcerting during regular Carowinds hours. Considering that the majority of the employees are teenagers, the park doesn’t exactly feel like the safest place at all times. While I know that many people feel safe allowing their teenagers to go to the park alone, I would not allow a minor to go to the park alone with the current security presence.

monster werewolf

Scary Deals & Dates

The best deal (outside of the regular Carowinds Gold Pass) is the Haunt Pass which allows for unlimited admission to SCarowinds. You can attend every night of the SCarowinds events for a low price of $59.99. If you have a regular Gold Pass to Carowinds, you can also attend every night of SCarowinds, too. If you don’t have a pass, prepare to pay $15.00 to park.

Do yourself a favor and check the site before you head out to the park. If you are looking for some Halloween night fun, the park is open from 7:00 pm until 1:00 am. Have fun, but you won’t see me there. I’ve had my fill with the one night I attended. But then again, I’m a scaredy pumpkin.

I’d love to hear about your visit to SCarowinds!

Hours for SCarowinds:

September
Fridays & Saturdays
7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

October
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Late Night Closings
October 24 & October 31
7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.