Fountain Terrace


The First Terrace is located next to the Callaway home. On the west side next to the urn are the boxwood mottoes Ida Callaway originally planted in 1921. They include the words “ST. CALLAWAY” and “ORA PRO MI” which means, in Latin, “pray for me.” The inspiration for these mottos came from the Callaway coat of arms which Fuller and Ida saw on a church window while they were visiting Cornwall, England in 1921.

Sarah and Blount Ferrell’s house sat in the same location as the Callaway home—but during Sarah’s time a large American Holly encircled with boxwood grew where the large fountain now stands. Fuller Sr. kept a circular boxwood bed, as was originally designed by Sarah, but the fountain was designed by Neel Reid. The one you see today is actually a replacement even though it looks old. A patina was added to make it look old, but it was replaced in 2001 with an exact replica created using a rubber mold of the original fountain.

This is where replicas are of mottos Sarah Ferrell originally planted in the late 1840s. Sarah planted GOD IS LOVE as her motto. For her husband Blount, she planted FIAT JUSTICIA, Latin for ‘let justice be done,’ preceded by a compass and square design. These were selected to honor his law profession and his affiliation with the Masons.

An oft-repeated story involving Judge Ferrell’s motto dates back to 1865 in the last days of Civil War conflict when Union troops marched their Confederate prisoners from the captured Fort Tyler, near West Point, GA, to LaGrange. Unbeknownst to either side involved in the battle on April 16th for Fort Tyler, Lee had already surrendered at Appomattox on April 9th. Judge Ferrell was among the captured and the Ferrell estate, being west of town and on the main road between the two cities, was apparently stopped at—a visit that undoubtedly caused Sarah much alarm. Alice Callaway would tell tour groups that Sarah brought the commanding officer into the garden and showed him the intricate symbols planted in boxwood that told of her devotion to her faith as well as the Masonic emblem at the beginning of one of the mottos (the story goes that he was also a Mason)—all of this in hopes that the Ferrell home and garden would be spared. The effects of General Sherman’s march from Atlanta to Savannah the previous year were, without a doubt, a concern to Mrs. Ferrell and the city of LaGrange as well. The garden and house were neither sacked nor the city of LaGrange. Another fascinating encounter between the troops and the Nancy Harts, the town’s well-trained women’s militia, occurred on Broad Street near the campus of LaGrange Female Academy (now LaGrange College). As the soldiers advanced down College Hill, what came into view were about 40 women, lined up and aiming to shoot. The ladies later reported that a captured Confederate major quickly interceded on their behalf, and the near battle was avoided.

A truce was negotiated between the “Nancies” and the commanding Colonel, whose last name was coincidentally (providentially?) LaGrange, stipulating that only facilities of military significance would be destroyed and no private homes or property would be touched. The women showed their gratitude by cooking and then feeding the Federal troops and the captured Confederates before they resumed their march the next day (April 18th) to Macon GA. It was there they all learned that the war was officially over and the prisoners were released and allowed to return home. Colonel LaGrange remained in Macon at least long enough to marry a woman from there, and one of the Nancy Harts ultimately met and married a former Union soldier!

Horticultural Specimens

  • Two female American hollies (Ilex opaca) one in each of the large parterre beds near the house. Showy berries in late fall through winter. These were planted in 2011 to re-establish American holly in this part of the garden, as it was present here during the tenure of both Sarah Ferrell and Ida Callaway.
  • ‘Perle d’Or’ roses, also in the large parterre beds near the house, were planted in 2011. Bloom salmon-pink from mid-spring frost. These were rooted from Alice Callaway’s Perle d’Or that she planted at the southwest corner of the greenhouse. That bush is still extant.
  • Glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) on top of the western wall and on either side of the steps. Also near the east portico, right next to the house. Blooms white in summer. Planted by Alice Callaway. The ones on top of the west wall were planted after 1983, as a hedge of Camellia japonica ‘Dixie Red’ surrounded this terrace on top of the east, west, and south walls that rim it. They were completely killed when LaGrange had a low of -9° during that winter (1983), and the glossy abelia was planted at some point to replace the ones that grew on the west wall.
  • Kurume azalea ‘Snow’ (Rhododendron ‘Snow’), in beds flanking the 1st Terrace fountain. Blooms white in late March or early April. Planted by Alice Callaway in 1939.
  • Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) was also planted by Alice Callaway after the devastating cold of 1983, thus replacing the camellias that grew atop the southern wall bordering the First Terrace. (see glossy abelia blurb above for further details) Blooms yellow in late spring (usually early June). Three younger rain trees were added to the west end of the row to replace those lost.
  • Japanese roof iris (Iris tectorum), planted on top of the south wall under the golden rain trees and also on top of the eastern wall of this terrace. Roof iris prefers some shade, and the latter are shaded by magnolia and a willow oak. Blooms blue in mid-spring (usually April). Planted by Alice Callaway.
  • Two Southern magnolias (M. grandiflora) planted by Sarah Ferrell are in the rear of a large parterre bed on the southeast corner. She planted at least 4 on this terrace, and that number remained until one growing in a bed on the southwest corner was removed by Alice Callaway in 1995. It had been damaged in a storm previously and she feared that it might ultimately fall towards the house, likely causing severe damage if that happened. Three were in the southeastern bed until 2001 when one of those succumbed to lightning damage. Bloom May-June.
  • Willow oak (Quercus phellos), one planted to replace the southern magnolia removed from the bed on the southwest corner and one planted near the “God Is Love” motto on top of the eastern wall of this terrace. These were both planted in 2002-2003 from 15-gallon containers.
  • Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), all three on this terrace planted by Alice Callaway in 1983.
  • Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens and B. sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’), many that are located south of the mottos on both east and west sides, excluding those surrounding the fountain, were likely planted by Sarah Ferrell. Certainly, a few have been replaced here and there by both Ida and Alice, but several factors indicate this conclusion. The European boxwood planted along the foundation of the home’s southern elevation were likely planted by Ida Callaway soon after the home’s completion.
  • Boxwood (B. sempervirens, B. sempervirens ‘Justin Brouwers’, B. x ‘Green Mountain’ and B. microphylla ‘Winter Gem’) comprise the mottos on the east side of the terrace (Ferrell mottos), mottos on the west side (Callaway mottos), surrounding the large parterre beds near the house on east and west sides, and the fountain, respectively. These have all been planted since 2000, though at different times, to replace English boxwood that had died or was in severe decline.

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