21st Annual Gala In The Garden
Hosted on the beautiful grounds of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden welcomed more than 400 guests to its annual Gala in the Garden black-tie fundraiser. This year’s event was co-chaired by Swanee DiMare and Frances Sevilla-Sacasa, and Joyce Burns and Penny Stamps served as Philanthropic Chairs. Guests celebrated Fairchild’s 75th anniversary of opening to the public – a huge milestone that was made possible by the support the community has given throughout the years. Proceeds support programs in conservation science, education, and horticulture to honor the founders’ vision of providing a beautiful tropical garden for all to enjoy.
The night began with a cocktail reception on the Mosaic of the Visitor Center at Fairchild, where a towering 75th anniversary ice sculpture stood behind the bar. Tropical hors d’oeuvres were served, including watermelon gazpacho, crab cakes with remoulade, and Florida lobster on crostini. The silent auction in the upstairs ballroom was bustling with activity as guests bid on items like cruises, jewelry, and vacation packages.
After the cocktail reception, guests moved to the Lakeside Marquee, which was beautifully decorated with touches of pink and green hues often seen while strolling through the Garden. Broadleaf plants and delicate orchids entwined the columns, illuminated by the soft golden light of the hanging lamps. Magnificent pink, green, and white flowers in full bloom adorned the table centerpieces. Next to each arrangement were commemorative boxes of dark chocolate truffles.
Board of Trustees President Bruce Greer welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about the advancements Fairchild has made in the past year, including the Million Orchid Campaign that aims to reintroduce one million native orchids back into Florida’s urban environments. He then introduced Swanee DiMare and Frances Sevilla-Sacasa, who thanked everyone for attending the Gala and supporting the Garden.
Le Basque Catering served a delicious meal with a first course of burrata and heirloom tomatoes and a main course of either aged beef tenderloin with Madeira toffee sauce or stuffed zucchini flowers with risotto. Dessert was a delicious, crispy meringue and white chocolate bread pudding.
After dinner, guests met on the dance floor and danced to the Soul Survivors Band, who played a great mix of hits from the past as well as today’s newest songs.
As they left, guests picked up their party favors – lovely orchids and hand-painted containers to display them.
It was a Gala to remember, and Fairchild will continue to stay true to the goals of the founders. As William Lyman Phillips, Fairchild’s original landscape architect and designer, said: “This garden should be not merely a collection of plants but a beautiful collection of plants…a source of spiritual satisfaction to any and all visitors.”