East Dallas Tour is Showing Off The “Garden” in “Lake And Garden District”

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Paths and nooks in Deborah Ballard’s garden give it a feel that is very similar to the Arboretum. Several sculptures by Ballard are interspersed throughout. (Photo: Jo England)


When Deborah Ballard moved into her Casa Linda Estates home 30 years ago, the backyard was a blank canvas with a few bushes here and there and some large, mature trees that dotted the lawn. It was perfect for Ballard, a nationally known sculptor and instructor at SMU, who has since transformed her private oasis into a lush garden that is home to some of her favorite works.

“Every time I’d have a little bit of extra money I’d buy one of those $2.99 plants and shrubs,” Ballard said. Those little investments have made for a big payoff, as the artist has created a memorable garden she enjoys year-round. Her outdoor space is just one of nine you can tour this Sunday, May 17, during the 14th annual White Rock East Garden Tour & Artisan fair. The tour also includes a stop at the Promise of Peace community garden and an art fair and plant sale at Casa Linda Park.

Realtor Vicki White has sponsored this garden tour from the beginning, she says, because she’s passionate about the lake and the gardens that make up the Lake and Garden District.

“I was born and raised right here in this East Dallas neighborhood,” White said. “The people are so genuine and friendly; no Zip code snobs here. We all truly enjoy going on the area home tours and garden tours because, let’s face it, this area is just different. So many trees and mature landscape, and sometimes it’s a little quirky.”

Quirky is good, of course, and Ballard says, most people will notice the sculptures first at her home on Selva Street in Casa Linda Estates, as the abstracted human forms dot the landscape. Some are hidden and made to look like rocks, while some are more obvious. There are several in the front yard, which have prompted people to stop and actually knock on her door to ask if they can tour her garden.

“We do get a lot of people who stop, and that’s why we put the bushes up,” Ballard says of the hedges that line the curb of her home. “It gives people a sign that this is private property.”

So if you’ve driven by Ballard’s home several times and have always wanted to see the gardens but you weren’t so brazen to knock, here’s your chance. Jump for more photos of this lovely sculpture garden, as well as more information on how to purchase your tickets the May 17 garden tour.

Deborah Ballard is a nationally known sculptor and instructor at SMU. Her Casa Linda Estates garden will be on the White Rock East Garden Tour.
Deborah Ballard is a nationally known sculptor and instructor at SMU. Her Casa Linda Estates garden will be on the White Rock East Garden Tour. (Photo: Jo England)

“Since I was a teenager, White Rock Lake was a huge part of my life, and I have too many stories to mention. I saw the birth of the Arboretum, have been a member of the Women’s League in the past, love the Mad Hatters Tea and all things Arboretum. It has truly changed the landscape of East Dallas for Lakewood, Forest Hills, Casa Linda, Lake Highlands and more, and continues to do so,” White said. “As a real estate agent, I have witnessed the rise in values like crazy in this area over the last few years. No one seems to every want to move away once they are here.”

And why would they when they have such a wonderful community of artists nearby and often next door? White Rock East Garden Tour organizer and sculptor Lottie Minick said she had no idea there were so many artists near her Forest Hills home until she volunteered for the garden tour. “It’s such a great party, and everyone has such a good time,” Minick said.

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Ballard’s garden has winding stone paths around a koi pond with a waterfall. This spot is one of her favorites. (Photo: Jo England)

Tickets for the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, cost $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the tour. You can buy them online or at Dee’s Doggie Den, Gecko Hardware, or The Green Spot Market.

For Ballard, what’s exciting is the opportunity to see her garden at its spring peak with roses, canna, jasmine, and azaleas showing off their colors. “There’s always something in bloom,” she said. “My favorite part of my garden is just enjoying it. I love watching the transformations that happen.”

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for CandysDirt.com. While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lottie Minick says

    And Vicki White is THE BEST. One of my favorite tour sponsors who’s always there for us. We are so lucky to have her. Vicki is so important to all of us in so many ways.

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