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Venise Stuart, President, Women's Council; Nikki Beneke, Chair, A Writer's Garden Symposium and Luncheon

Interior Designer and Author Bunny Williams and Cofounder and CEO of Garden & Gun Rebecca Wesson Darwin to speak at A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Carmen Hancock, Honorary Chair | Nikki Beneke, Chair | Venise Stuart, President
Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

 Nikki Beneke, Chair of the 13th Annual A Writer’s Garden Literary Symposium and Luncheon, announced interior designer and author Bunny Williams and Cofounder and CEO of Garden & Gun Rebecca Wesson Darwin as the featured speakers at the event to be held on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The event benefits the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden at the Dallas Arboretum. Venise Stuart is Women’s Council President.  

Community leader Carmen Hancock has signed on as honorary chair and New York Times bestselling author, screenwriter, journalist and executive editor of Texas Monthly Magazine Skip Hollandsworth will be the Emcee. Garden & Gun has come on board as national media sponsor.

The two speakers each have new books which will be featured at A Writer’s Garden. Bunny Williams’ newest book “Love Affairs with Houses” was released this past spring. The book presents her new work through 15 houses she has decorated and loved. She tells the story of each “affair,” as she calls them, tracing the style of the spaces, what drew her to the projects and her approach to décor that evolves with the lives of her clients. Bunny says, “The best pieces have the best stories,” and in this story-filled monograph, she shows readers a fresh collection of projects that demonstrates just that.

Rebecca will be speaking about Garden & Gun’s newest release, “Southern Women” which launches October 15, 2019, just in time for this event. It is a rich collection of some of the South’s most notable women. Through interviews, essays and more, these remarkable chefs, musicians, actors, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers and public servants will offer a dynamic portrait of who the Southern woman is now. The voices of bona fide icons such as Sissy Spacek, Leah Chase, Bunny Williams and Loretta Lynn join those whose stories for too long have been overlooked or underestimated. From the pioneering Texas rancher Minnie Lou Bradley to the Gee’s Bend, Alabama quilter Mary Margaret Pettway – all visionaries who have left their indelible mark not just on Southern culture, but on American itself. By reading these stories of triumph, grit and grace, the ties that bind the sisterhood of Southern woman emerge: an unflinching resilience and resourcefulness, an inherent love of the land, a singular style and wit.

One of Nikki’s favorite quotes is from Audrey Hepburn when she said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Nikki says that throughout history, gardens and nature have always been associated with notions of Mother Earth and femininity. A Woman’s Garden, this event’s beneficiary, is the incredible jewel of the Dallas Arboretum and recognized for its own unique history.  A Woman’s Garden was created out of a deep respect for nature and the feminine ideal and provides aesthetically beautiful, meaningful spaces that offer an opportunity for spiritual renewal that is central to its original concept and design.

Underwriting, sponsorships are available beginning at $2,500 up to $25,000. Individual patron tickets begin at $250 up to $1,500. Each level has its own special benefits. Some levels include invitations to an exclusive VIP Reception and some to a Meet the Authors Patron Party.  Find out more by visiting the website at


About Bunny Williams: 

Considered one of the most talented names in design, Bunny is also an accomplished businesswoman, entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. A lover of dogs, gardens, and china, Bunny’s knowledge and expertise is on par with her enjoyment of life. Her eponymous firm — launched in 1988 following a 22-year apprenticeship with the esteemed Parish-Hadley Associates — has wrought its own indelible imprint and legacy.  If you are not familiar with that firm, Sister Parish is the one who was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy to redo the White House. Her designs are found across the United States and abroad.  Bunny’s own houses and her long career have provided ample material and inspiration for seven books to date and she is a sought after speaker and mentor.

Bunny grew up in the countryside near Charlottesville, Virginia. Her parents encouraged her passion for the arts and led her to Garland Junior College in Boston, where she studied interior design. Upon moving to New York, Bunny subsequently joined Parish-Hadley. When she left Parish-Hadley, she started her own firm working with three people out of her guest bedroom.  Because of her devotion to gardening, she opened Treillage in 1991 along with her husband, the antiques dealer John Rosselli. Considered both ground breaking and industry changing, Treillage drew A-list designers, editors and tastemakers.

Never one to rest on her many awards, accolades and honors, Bunny keeps her eye on what’s next, whether it’s her collaborations with Ballard Designs, Bunny Williams Home or her next book. She is always looking to the future. Come and hear what’s next!

About Rebecca Wesson Darwin:

Rebecca Wesson Darwin is Cofounder and CEO of the Allée Group LLC, which owns Garden & Gun magazine, which launched in spring 2007. After moving to Charleston, South Carolina, following a successful career in publishing in New York City, Darwin and the co-founder realized there was a need for a publication that spoke to the soul of the South. 

Darwin grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then moved to New York. She established her career at GQ, where she implemented national retail advertising and promotions programs. She later became the first female publisher of the New Yorker, the publisher of Mirabella, and the marketing director of Fortune.

Her immersion in the worlds of media, fashion, advertising, and business brings an understanding and grace to the world of Garden & Gun. Darwin resides in historic downtown Charleston with her husband, Cress, the senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston; her two daughters, Lily and SaSa; and her springer spaniel, Phillip, and French bulldog, Penelope.


* Photos by Dana Driensky.

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