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River Farm Setting for Festive Evening

American Horticultural Society Holds Eleventh Annual Gala.

Even in the midst of a hurricane, the setting for last year’s American Horticultural Society’s Gala was spectacular. This year promises to be even better and coordinators are hoping for better weather.

Paula Coupe said that the entire event, including the silent auction tables, will be under large tents. The list of silent auction items includes gift certificates to tons of restaurants, jewelry, a weekend at the Morrison House, tickets to local events and attractions, apparel and several gardening club baskets. Coupe said that they also have several items from Garden Artisans, a company that will soon be supplying items for the gift shop.

For the live auction, which will be led by Bridget Flint and James Kelley, “there are a lot of vacation properties, including a place at Lost Creek Ranch; a condo at Beaver Creek, Colorado; a home in Block Island; and a vacation place in the Grand Tetons,” Coupe said. “We have a tandem kayak package with everything included and a boat trip. There’s also some very nice jewelry this year — a gold and diamond necklace and a South Sea and freshwater pearl necklace.”

“The jewelry is quite amazing,” said Leslie Ariail, the 2004 Gala chair who also chaired the gala two years ago.

She said that the highlight of the gala this year will be the former River Farm headquarters gates. Thanks to the help of William Seale, architectural historian and AHS Board member, they have discovered that the gates once stood at the northeast entrance to the White House.

Seale’s research has shown that they were at the White House from 1820 to 1934, during the presidencies of James Monroe through Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the 185-year-old handmade iron gates are displayed at the gala, they will be restored in time to be shown at the Philadelphia Flower Show in March 2005. The gates will then be reinstalled in the gardens of River Farm. Ariail said that guests will have the opportunity to be photographed with the gates in the background.

U.S. Sen. and Mrs. John Warner have agreed to be the honorary chairs of the gala, while Laura Bush will serve as the honorary patron.