When the American Horticultural Society (AHS) throws a party, people come—in fact, hundreds of people come. David Ellis, communications director, reports that 362 people the most ever for an AHS gala, attended the Annual AHS Gala, held at George Washington's River Farm on Sept. 25. Coming on the heels of last year’s event that ran even in the midst of a hurricane, this year’s gala was just perfect.
As always, River Farm provided an elegant setting and the weather cooperated to make it a very special evening. Guests had the added treat of being photographed with the White House Gates. They also listened to presentations by Arabella S. Dane, Leslie Ariail, Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), and Katy Moss Warner, president, American Horticultural Society.
Warner is very pleased with the way things are going and highlighted a number of major milestones met by AHS this year. She said that the conceptual new Master Plan for River Farm is now complete. She spoke about how this year's gala had the largest attendance they have ever experienced, and the fact that for the first time in decades, the AHS is in the black.
“The discovery that AHS has in its possession a set of former White House gates has been a catalyst for many exciting developments. Among these are increased support for the gala and other AHS fundraising activities, and the opportunity for AHS to showcase its programs to a national audience when the professionally restored gates go on display as the entrance exhibit to the Philadelphia Flower Show in March 2005. The gates will eventually become an important element of the landscape design at River Farm,” Warner said.
Ellis said that the numbers aren’t in yet, but anticipates that revenues are well over last year’s. This is due in part to the popular silent and live auction items. He said that one of the more popular items, the Lost Creek Ranch vacation package, raised the most money, but another item that received a very enthusiastic response from bidders was the 2005 Great American Gardeners Conference package. This included two gift registrations for the annual conference and award ceremony that will be held in Orlando, Fla., in April, complimentary airfare and hotel rooms during the event.
Next year's gala is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2005. The theme is set as "Festa di Colori e Giardini”—a celebration of color in the garden—and the chairperson will be Skipp Calvert.