Believe it or not, Dunwoody was primarily farmland in 1960 when corporate America moved in and residential developers discovered the beauty of the land. Rapid growth presented numerous opportunities for school ground projects, the first of which was Dunwoody Elementary.

Fortunately for the school, the Dunwoody Garden Club, founded in 1967, was around to pitch in. I say fortunately because the county had allocated no funds for the school grounds, and the Garden Club not only completely landscaped the property, they also convinced the county to install sidewalks.

Years later, the property was sold to DeKalb County and converted to the Dunwoody Library and North DeKalb Arts Center. Again, the Dunwoody Garden Club was instrumental in beautifying the property. They hosted the opening of the library and planted the interior atrium garden in the library vestibule, something we still enjoy today.

In the spring of 2009, they partnered with the Friends of the Dunwoody Library to improve the exterior landscaping and, for several years, coordinated children’s gardening projects at the library. They also worked on the grounds at Peachtree Middle School, Dunwoody High School, and all the other elementary schools. In fall 2008, they distributed 250,000 daffodil bulbs. Students planted 300 and the remaining were planted on Ashford Center Parkway.

When the Dunwoody community successfully fought for medians during the widening of Ashford-Dunwoody Road, the Garden Club led the effort to insist that the median be landscaped. Not only that, they raised $60,000, and to this day, we all enjoy the beautiful maple trees on this well-traveled road.

They’ve also supported and worked in the Dunwoody Nature Center and restored the New Hope Cemetery — 55 volunteers, over several workdays, hauled 11 truckloads of overgrowth to the dump! When the Cheek Spruill 1906 landmark of Dunwoody Farmhouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, the club watered its trees for four years and worked on the grounds to help save it. They’ve raised money and contributed financially to a host of other community projects, and their members have been active in virtually every local civic organization, often taking leadership positions.

When a deadly tornado struck Dunwoody in 1998, not only were 3,000 homes damaged or destroyed but thousands of trees were also lost. The entire community came together to support “Replant the Dunwoody Forest,” and the Garden Club donated $1,000 and led the effort to replant. The project planted 25,000 trees over three years.

They seemingly never run out of ideas. In 2011, at Brook Run Park, they began the pollinator garden to attract butterflies and bees to the area. By 2013, the award-winning garden was so successful, they renamed it “The Butterfly Garden.” The same year, they stepped up to redesign the main entrance to Brook Run and decided it would be their signature project.

Visitors are welcome to attend their monthly meetings. The next one is Wednesday, Sept. 8 at the Dunwoody N. Shallowford Annex, 4470 N. Shallowford Road, Dunwoody, Ga. 30338. Hospitality begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by a short general meeting and the program at 11 a.m. Barbara Dorfman, a landscape consultant will present “Native Plants: Their Essential Role in Preserving Our Bird, Butterfly and Other Natural Species.” This is an opportunity to learn how native plants can enhance your home landscaping.

For more information visit the Club’s website at The group continues to assure me that those of us with brown thumbs are welcome.

Award-winning author Kathy Manos Penn is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her cozy mysteries locally at The Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,