Parker County Today PCT June 2018 - Page 93

Continued from page 34 much like school work.  Start with a stroll through Chandor Gardens, a magical garden that offers a unique world-class paradise with an enchanting story and an astound- ing array of creativity, color and beauty.  The gardens were lovingly designed and created by renowned English portrait artist Douglas Chandor more than 70 years ago. Today it remains a spectacular marvel. To most, this chalky hill in North Central Texas would seem an unlike- ly place for a garden of such imagina- tion and splendor. But when Douglas Chandor married Weatherford native Ina Kuteman in 1935, she convinced him to build their home and garden in the heart of her hometown. Although his claim to fame was his talent as an artist, Douglas found his real passion as a gardener. He once told Ina that his talent for paint- ing was merely a means that enabled him to fulfill his dreams of building a “living artwork”. Douglas Chandor’s destiny would be to turn these dreams into a reality. The gardens, originally called Chandor Gardens entrance Photo by Steve Schillio White Shadows, were carved from 4 acres of rock-hard terrain that was once a cow pasture. The project began in 1936 with the aid of picks, shovels, dynamite and mule-drawn plows. Truckloads of topsoil and tons of boulders were brought in to trans- form the barren cactus-dotted proper- ty into a peaceful haven enclosed by hedges and walls. Chandor devised a series of garden rooms, each with individual character and stunning views, all connected by meandering walkways. His creation combines the styles and ambiance of Chinese and English gardens with such delights as fountains, grottos, and even a moun- tain waterfall. The Chandors worked tirelessly together in the gardens until Douglas’ death in 1953, at which time Ina renamed them Chandor Gardens as a tribute to her husband. The gardens remained open to the public until shortly before her death in the late 1970s. Because there were no direct heirs, the property remained unat- tended, overgrown and deteriorating for 20 years. In 1994, local residents Charles and Melody Bradford purchased the estate and took on the enor- mous task of restoring the gardens and home. In what could only be described as a true labor of love, they painstakingly spent years clear- ing and cleaning away the debris of decades of neglect. Many large old trees, Douglas’ original wisteria and boxwood plantings, and his magi- cal hardscapes remained. Everything else was replanted by the Bradfords, and thanks to their efforts Chandor Gardens was once again transformed into a lush tranquil delight. In time, the Bradford’s decided to sell the property, and the City of Weatherford purchased Chandor Gardens in May 2002. After minor renovations necessary for compliance with the American Disabilities Act and City building codes, Chandor was re-opened to the public in the fall of 2002. The gardens are available for public and private tours. The gardens, along with the Chandor mansion, are available for rental. It is an ideal and picturesque setting for weddings, photography, meetings, and special events. Toddlers to teenagers will be enchanted by Weatherford’s most spectacular treasure.