Carmen Johnston & St. Jude’s Patient Ambassador To Plant Garden at Idea House at Fontanel

Posted: Jun 03, 2013



Six-Year-Old Nashville Native and Carmen Johnston Will Create Containers

Tuesday, June 4 from 10 A.M. - 12 P.M.


The House, Built on Barbara Mandrell’s Former Estate, Opens for Tours June 29; A Portion of Proceeds Will Be Donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

LOXLEY, Ala. and NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 2X, 2013) – Southern Living® Plant Collection Garden Lifestyle Expert Carmen Johnston will share her expertise with six-year-old St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® patient Mae , the St. Jude ambassador for the 2013 Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel.

Together Mae and Carmen will plant several bright and colorful container gardens using items from the Southern Living® Plant Collection. Mae’s favorite color – pink – will be prominently featured in the design. Mae will also assist Carmen with final plantings to the Idea House’s vegetable garden.

Mae will be attired in fun and fashionable garden apparel from Carmen, including a new garden hat, pink boots and an apron. Carmen will also gift Mae with one of the containers they create together for her front porch, as well as a bucket of gardening “goodies.”

The Idea House will be open to the public for tours beginning June 29 on Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of the year. Tickets are $12. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Artwork created by St. Jude patients will be showcased in the Idea House located at 4105 Whites Creek Pike in Nashville, TN 37189. A feature on the home is scheduled to appear in the August issue of Southern Living.

Mae’s role as ambassador will be to visit the home and track its development. She will also be on hand to help the design team choose the patient art to adorn the walls in addition to

planting the garden. Her experiences will be highlighted in special blog posts on Her involvement will help bring to life the lifesaving mission of St. Jude throughout the house for the tens of thousands of people expected to visit this year.

Mae, who was born in Nashville, was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a cancer of the kidney, when she was just four years old. Mae’s family initially sought treatment at a local hospital. When her cancer returned Mae’s family came to St. Jude where children fighting cancer and other deadly diseases are treated with pioneering research and exceptional care. After undergoing extensive treatment Mae has recently been deemed cancer-free and was able to return home.

“Partnering with Southern Living on this exciting project, allows an opportunity for the public to help more patients like Mae receive treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – where no family ever pays the hospital for anything,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Mae, whose charming personality and infectious joy make her a great fit for this project, will serve as a tangible link at the Idea House to the many children receiving groundbreaking treatment at St. Jude.”

Mae’s gardening lesson will commence Tuesday, June 4 – from 10 A.M. - 12 P.M.

Broadcasters: You are welcome to cover the visit and Mae will be available for interview.

“As a St. Jude parent I greatly appreciate Southern Living helping spread awareness and raise funds for their lifesaving work,” said Tricia McNally. “Mae definitely has strong design opinions. She loves a lot of purple and glitter, but I know that she will help infuse the house with some special St. Jude spirit and remind the people visiting of the good work they’re supporting.”

Southern Living assembled a first-rate team for the project. The developer is Fontanel Properties LLC. The architects are the renowned firm Historical Concepts. The builder is Castle Homes and the landscape desing is by Page/Duke Landscape Architects, planted primarily with varieties from the Southern Living Plant Collection. The décor is designed by interior designer and Southern Living Contributing Editor Phoebe Howard.  

Unlike other Southern Living Idea Houses, this home will remain on the Fontanel property and will later open as a luxury boutique hotel. For more information, go to:


Media Contacts:

Southern Living Plant Collection | Corrina Murray, 251-960-5438,

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital | Janella Escobar, 901-578-2398,

Fontanel | Zan Martin, 615-330-5622,

Southern Living | Jen Zawadzinski, 212-522-9046,

About Southern Living Plant Collection

The Southern Living® Plant Collection is a series of innovative plants selected for their ability to solve specific landscape challenges and to excel in Southern gardens. Their beauty and performance is the result of years of plant evaluations, plant trials and research. The collection is the result of a partnership between Plant Development Services, Inc. and Southern Living® magazine to bring high-performing plants suitable for Southern gardens to the market. Go to to learn more.

About Southern Living

Southern Living celebrates the essence of life in the South, covering the best in Southern food, home, garden, and travel.  Reaching more than 16 million consumers each month, Southern Living connects consumers with the region’s rich culture through a variety of print, digital, mobile, tablet and event platforms.  Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the rapidly expanding Southern Living brand is part of Time Inc., one of the largest content companies in the world and the largest publisher in the United States. Time Inc. is a Time Warner company. 

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Since opening 50 years ago, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has changed the way the world treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. No family ever pays St. Jude for the care their child receives and, for every child treated here, thousands more have been saved worldwide through St. Jude discoveries. The hospital has played a pivotal role in pushing U.S. pediatric cancer survival rates from 20 to 80 percent overall, and is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children. It is also a leader in the research and treatment of blood disorders and infectious diseases in children. St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, who believed that no child should die in the dawn of life. Join that mission by visiting or following us on and

About Fontanel

Fontanel Mansion is a 27,000 square foot log home formerly owned by Country Music Hall of Fame member Barbara Mandrell, and is Nashville’s only country music mansion tour, giving visitors a sneak peek into the lives of country music greats. The home, situated on the 136-acre property is nestled in the rolling hills of the Whites Creek Valley. With the 2013 Southern Living Idea House under construction, the Woods Amphitheater concert series, events and activities at the Pepsi Studio Gallery, the award winning American/Italian kitchen and wine bar at Cafe Fontanella, family friendly atmosphere, and activities like the Prodigy Signature Disc Golf Course, and bike and walking trails using the soon to be completed conservation greenway, it is easy to see that Fontanel is one of Nashville's premier destinations. Fontanel is located in Whites Creek just minutes from downtown Nashville. For more information or to book a private event, visit or call 615-724-1600.

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