The Valley Line: Descanso party raises funds for a youth outreach

After an iffy, dreary, drizzly week, that caused a few frayed nerves of committee members, the day of the S.E.E.D.S. (Supporting Education and Excellence at Descanso) gala event held at Descanso Gardens cleared up as if by magic and guests enjoyed a lovely, balmy evening. To add to the sensory experience, the garden's air was fragrant after being moistened by the mist of the previous days.

The S.E.E.D.S. program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The event, themed "Splendor at Descanso" was truly a splendid affair as $150,000 was raised in support of education and interpretive programs at the gardens for school children, many of whom come to Descanso Gardens from under-served and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Sharon Mintie Miller chaired the event and she was assisted by Martha Wheeler Bowman, Judith Brown, Audrey Bush, Jillian Cycon, Elysa del Guercio, Judy Dundee, Camdon Clark Eberhardt, Ginny Fisher, Debbie Lowrey Fogarty, Jennifer Herzer, Laura Hobart, Kelly Mack, Debbie McCoy, Linda O'Callaghan, Gaye Pettibone, Jody Platisa, Sharon Ramage-Wagner, Terri Rothe, McNally Sagal, Kathleen Waidan and Anne Trujillo.

Gala guests first gathered for cocktails and conversation where they were greeted by David Brown, executive director of Descanso, and his wife, Judith.

"For many of the children who are the benefactors of the S.E.E.D.S. mission of education, a trip to Descanso Gardens is their first and sometimes most important introduction to the natural world," David Brown stated.

More than 300 guests dined under the magnificent ancient oaks of the garden's main lawn. A rich autumn-hued palette prevailed as the tables were set with natural linen tablecloths accented with persimmon-colored satin napkins, gold-rimmed goblets and copper-handled flatware.

Amanda Claverie of Rosebud Floral Designs in Bradbury created the table centerpieces with fall floral arrangements in tall, dark wood cylinders and shallow dark wood trays. The arrangements included maidenhair fern, mosses, autumn-toned roses, pomegranates, accented with tiny pumpkins and autumn leaves.

The dinner was prepared and served by the Patina Group. It began with a honey-roasted pear salad garnished with mushrooms and chestnuts. The entrée was a slow-braised prime short ribs with glazed fall root vegetables. The dessert was a tropical lemon cake with basil, passion fruit and mango sauce.

Honorees for the evening were the chairs of the last nine S.E.E.D.S. galas: Amy Lamb (2001), Elizabeth Fitzpatrick and Linda O'Callaghan (co-chairs 2002), Lucia Logan (2003), Julie Scholler (2004), Lisa S. Cochran (2005), Pam Thyret (2006), Anne Trujillo and McNally Sagal (co-chairs 2007), Martha Wheeler Bowman (2008), and Faye Therrien (2009.)

The evening included a live auction and a paddle auction hosted by KNBC TV weatherman Fritz Coleman, who always encourages bidders to "up" their bids for seven items that included vacation trips, a 3D HD TV, concert tickets, and two dinners catered by Patina Group to be held at the historic Boddy House at Descanso Gardens.

As Coleman began the auction he said, "Descanso is an oasis. A physical and spiritual escape. I have so much respect for everyone who pours so much love into this lovely place. I'm much honored to be a part of their yearly event!"

After dining, guests danced to the music of the Gerry Rothschild Band. It truly was a beautiful evening in so many ways.

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