AHS Gala at River Farm

AHS Gala at River Farm

Annual event celebrates color.

Members of The American Horticultural Society are so dedicated to the cause that they are willing to take the shirt off their backs. Or in the case of Dr. Marc Cathey, their vest. The donation of his infamous purple vest started off the live auction with a bang as Cathey removed his vest and displayed it for the audience. Steve Cissel, CEO and Founder of Green Industry Yellow Pages, Inc., is now the owner of Cathey’s vest — and tie. The cost — a mere $700.

The fun continued with two special trips, a painting by Lida Stifel, an antique music box donated by Lucinda and William Seale, and a package by Allan Armitage. When the final gavel sounded, the live auction had brought in several thousand dollars for AHS. This was a small portion of the proceeds garnered from the 12th Annual Gala 2005 “Festa di Colori e Giardini, A Celebration of Color in the Garden.”

Held at River Farm last weekend, the event “celebrated the enduring Italian influence on American gardens.”

“The rich cultural heritage of Italy has inspired many things in American culture such as food, music and certainly gardens,” said AHS President Katy Moss Warner. “Italian elements have been incorporated brilliantly to create our own distinctive American garden style.”

At the gala, she said that she hopes this country will become “a nation of gardeners and a land of gardens.”

ITALIAN MUSIC PLAYED as guests entered the gardens, which were the site of a major "makeover" during the past few weeks. One transformation took place when a local landscaping company renovated and redesigned the brick driveway in front of the estate house.

This work had been done as part of the preparation to exhibit the new plants and containers being showcased by the six companies that were at the site as part of the Eastern Performance Trials last week. This debut event for the Mid-Atlantic was designed to emulate the California Pack Trials and give professionals in the green industry (including retail garden center owners, growers, landscape designers and landscaping companies) a chance to glimpse next year’s plants here on the East Coast. AHS members had a chance to come and see the new plants last Thursday and gala guests enjoyed viewing them Saturday evening.

Companies represented at River Farm were: Proven Winners, Goldsmith, Saunders Brothers, Centerton Nursery, Cherry Lake Tree Farm and Campania. Several of the representatives attended the gala and shared their insights on the industry. Most of them seemed pleased with the way the event turned out, and consider it a work in progress.

David Ellis, director of communications, said that nearly 300 people registered to visit River Farm during the trials and that they came from all over the United States.

U.S. Sen. George Allen and his wife, Susan Allen, were honorary hosts and Sergio Vento, the Italian Ambassador to the United States, served as the gala’s honorary chair.

Skipp Calvert chaired the Gala Committee and also served as the auctioneer. He was assisted by Katy Moss Warner. All proceeds from the Gala benefit River Farm and the educational programs of the American Horticultural Society.