The Valley Line

It was a perfect early summer eve as more than 350 guests came to the famed Descanso Gardens to make “A Toast to California” and to raise funds for the many yearlong programs at the Gardens. The 8th annual benefit was presented by the 52 women members of SEEDS (Supporting Education and Excellence at Descanso).

Proceeds from the gala benefit Descanso Gardens' 150-acre botanical garden and its significant educational programs, including those that introduce the landscape to thousands of children.

This year's event chair was Martha Wheeler Bowman. Honorary chairs were David and Amy Lamb. David R. Brown, executive director of the Gardens, and Simon Harrison, chairman of the Descanso Gardens Board of Directors, welcomed guests as they entered the garden that had been magically enhanced with white, twinkling lights entwined among the branches of the ancient oak trees.

Guests dined at long wooden tables with botanic runners of kumquat leaves studded with their bright orange fruit. Large wrought-iron candelabra held flickering candles contained within blown-glass holders. Patina presented the superb dinner with the main entrée of breast of free range chicken and garden herbed couscous. Dinner wine pairings were generously donated by Terlato Wines International, Ferrari Carano Vineyards & Winery, and D'Argenzio Winery.

Once again Fritz Coleman, KNBC weatherman, was more than an adept and entertaining auctioneer as he stirred the crowd into several bidding frenzies. Although the final figures won't be out for a couple of weeks, it is hoped that the final tally will surpass last year's amount.

After the bidding was completed, guests stayed on to dance to the band of Greg Fortune of Fortune Entertainment. Tunes from the big band era to rock and roll keep the dance floor crowded.

JANE NAPIER NEELY has been covering the La Cañada social scene for over 26 years. She can be reached at

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