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EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens | Central Texas Gardener

November 5, 2019

– [Announcer] The EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens
in Wimberley brings together all ages in joy, serenity, and remembrance. Families tend their own little outdoor sanctuaries. Butterflies abound to honor 16-year-old Emily
Ann, whose life was lost in 1996. – That cute girl, Emily Ann, our daughter,
at 16, was coming home on the 21st of December and lost her life in a car accident. And I think what we really, really wanted
to do was wake up the world, to tell the world that life was so important. And of course, nothing like blooming plants
and butterflies tells that story better. August 1 of ’98 we started the EmilyAnn Theatre
to provide a stage and a place for children to have Shakespeare in the summer. And along came the gardens. And now they are a featured attraction. – [Announcer] The Wimberley Independent School
District deeded them the first six acres. Now embracing 12 acres, community volunteers
pitched in back-breaking work to help Ann and Norm turn overgrown scrub into wondrous
gardens. – [Ann] I have to mention my cute husband,
Mr. Norm Rolling, who is truly the gardener. And he loves the gardens and builds most here
on the site. He dreams about them, looks into the eye of
the space, and then creates a caring, loving, interactive space. – The water features were an idea and a vision
of Norm Rolling, which most of the grounds are. They were put in because, of course, all the
wildlife needs water. Many people want those features in their gardens. And Norm puts those in. The community needed a place like this. I wanted to build something that my kids could
enjoy for many years to come, being involved in the Shakespeare program. And it’s good to bring your kids along and
have them do a little hard work and invest in what they’re doing. – [Ann] We started it with a meager amount
of dollars that would have been Emily’s college fund. And we stuck that in, and then along came
Wimberley. – [Narrator] Now, the gardens draw butterflies,
bees, other pollinators, and birds all year long. And every April, the Butterfly Festival brings
together hundreds of families to connect fun and nature. – I was going to an unmarked grave at the
time. And a young boy, six years old, Brian, came
after me and said, I have a birthday present for your daughter. He had found a chrysalis and built a cage
and released it there at that grave site. And that butterfly spoke to my heart and to
the heart of so many around. And so I thought, butterflies, how best to
describe what really, loss and remembrance could look like. When you have a palette to paint on, and you
live in the Hill Country in Wimberley, everyone comes to paint here, not only paint, but to
imagine and create. Everything you see in the areas here at the
EmilyAnn have been magically developed. – [Narrator] The Hill Country Unit of the
Herb Society of America, spices things up with a walk-around herb garden that’s renewed
butterfly, bee, and bird populations. – It appeals to children because they’re experiencing
the plants through their senses. And actually that appeals to children of all
ages. The Touch Garden has Mexican feather grass
in it that is very touchable. And one day I came up here, and it was braided. And I thought, ah, perfect. Here in Wimberley, we have to be concerned
about deer. And the plants that we have in our garden,
the plants that are still there, are deer resistant. This garden illustrates culinary uses, medicinal
uses, craft, and economic. We have a little booklet that is geared to
ages from five to 15. Parents can use the activities to guide them
through the garden. – [Ann] We work closely with our Hays County
Master Naturalists and gardens clubs as well. – [Narrator] Chorusing birds join children
making their own kind of music. – Our Rotary Club they built the chess and
checker board down below and then added the musical garden. And this year we’re welcoming a library here
on the grounds, that will partner with the Wimberley Library and the Rotary Club that
will give books to children during our Christmas events and other events. – [Announcer] Children always head for one
of the many imaginative adventures, many built by the Eagle Scouts. – [Ann] Justin’s Castle was built for Justin
Rodriguez, who lost his life to leukemia and leaving four siblings and parents. And so as they’ve grown up and gone through
the schools, the Eagle Scout project built the castle. Our Girl Scouts built a boat in a moat around
Justin’s Castle. – [Announcer] Families honor memories in their
own miniature gardens where history builds on the future. – I started here about 2007 as a volunteer
and enjoyed being a part of it. – I was on the first board and also came out
and helped put pathways in, and cut cedar, and move rocks. My kids were little and they were involved
in shows, so it’s been a big part of our family for a very long time. – Then later, my husband passed away. And Norm was in the business of making some
beautiful gardens. And I said, well we need one for my husband. And his name is Popz. – So when the garden areas were expanded off
of the theater grounds, more people wanted to do the same, as far as memorializing someone. We bring food, we play music. We giggle and laugh and make memories. And it’s just a special place. It’s not just a garden. It’s like a living history for our family. – [Announcer] History in the making begins
at the betrothal tree. – [Ann] Our betrothal tree is one of my favorites. A 200-plus-year-old tree grown together where
we pledge our troth one to another. The top of the hill is magnificent. Who would have known that the Veteran’s Memorial
would stand atop that hill joined to the Children’s Memorial? Our very first garden here, the Children’s
Memorial Area, to honor lives lost. – They had the old flagpole up on top and
wanted to raise the American flag and weren’t sure of the proper protocol. So she asked me to come up and raise the flag. Little things get bigger and bigger, and pretty
soon I designed the plaza up there with all the flags. It was a community project. We raised, in less than six months, $60,000
in this community to build that. We have each of the service flags, and we
have a walkway coming towards the U.S. flag. And we have the names of various veterans
inscribed on that. I’ve seen more tears from veterans when they
just get up there, and they see a stone with their name on it. It just means so much to ’em to know that
people think about them and respect them. Of course, being from the Vietnam War, I went
through the being spit on, and all that type of stuff, and all the negative aspects. And that was always somethin’ that I didn’t
like, and I didn’t appreciate. And so that was kind of an incentive when
Ann said, well let’s do something here. That’s where the whole idea came. Let’s honor the veterans, those who have served
and are serving. It’s quiet, and it’s peaceful. And they can see that they’re honored. And that’s all they want, is to know that
they’re recognized for the job that they’ve done. – How did the magic begin? I can’t really tell you. I know that we wanted to reinvest in the dignity
of the human spirit. We had no way of knowing what that looked
like. But guess what? This is what it looks like.

1 Comment

  • Reply Nia Lin June 13, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I think it’s great that the community was allowed to come together in this way. I’ve tried to establish a community garden in my town in CA, but the city leaders have to be in complete control of any community project, have dozens of regulations to impose; don’t allow local groups or caring individuals to make the projects happen, even when following regulations. If it’s in city limits, then it has to be run by the city. Doesn’t matter if the money is raised independently, if labor is volunteered, if non-profits or clubs are willing to take on the “burden” of working w/the city to ensure a lawful, safe installation. It’s a blessing that these folks have the support of their local leaders!

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