Naples Botanical Garden hosts two smashing events

Hats of all fashions made an appearance at the Seventh Annual Hats in the Garden to benefit the Naples Botanical Garden. Vanessa Rogers Photography

Hats of all fashions made an appearance at the Seventh Annual Hats in the Garden to benefit the Naples Botanical Garden. Vanessa Rogers Photography

Darby Hills, in a feathered chapeau, catches up with guests before lunch at Hats in the Garden 2010. Vanessa Rogers Photography

Darby Hills, in a feathered chapeau, catches up with guests before lunch at Hats in the Garden 2010. Vanessa Rogers Photography

Celebration Week at the Naples Botanical Garden included events both on and off campus. Topping the list of ticketed happenings were the opening night gala last Tuesday followed next day by the 7th annual Hats in the Garden Luncheon.

Co-chairs Jane Berger and Leslie Fogg, along with full staff and army of volunteers, orchestrated the weeklong celebrations. Affiliated with the building project since it was just a kernel in the late founder Harvey Kapnick’s mind some 12 years ago, Berger and Fogg were two of the instigators of its biggest fundraiser, “Hats in the Garden.”

The evening gala began at 5 p.m. while the warming sun was still shining, numbers of the 450 guests, in view of the colder evening temps, forsook traditional garden party attire for coverups. All wore shoes made for walking but Mary Watkins’s colorful garden shoes were the niftiest, while Fred Pezeshkan danced a little jig each time he proudly showed off the black-and-white pair in which he claims he gardens.

Wine was proffered at every turn by uniformed Ritz-Carlton waiters as the crowd strolled the three new gardens’ paths.

While acclaimed Australian-born landscape designer Michael R. White, also known as Made Wijaya, long-resident in Indonesia, created the Asian Garden, Naples-based landscape architect Ellin Goetz designed the multi-faceted Scott Florida Garden and Water Garden. Florida Sunset rum and peach schnapps cocktails were passed in the latter while Florida native son and musician J. Robert strummed the reception hour away.

Heaping plates from four buffet displays showed a variety of of Florida — and Asian-themed foods.Executive Director Brian Holley recognized chairs, sponsors and underwriters for their support.

Executive Director Brian Holley recognized Ellin Goetz, event chairs, sponsors and underwriters for their support. Departures came early, with female guests toting surprise gift bags, in anticipation of the following day’s luncheon gala

Next morning, valets stood ready again, this time to welcome 450 supporters topped with the most creative millinery for garden wear. Hats in the Garden co-chairs Karen Scott and Vicky Smith and other members of the Sustaining Leadership Council mixed and mingled round the reception area, admiring and exclaiming over chapeaux.

Diners oohed and aahed over the Faraone Menella jewelry collection being offered through Marissa Collections; chatted with Jennnifer McCurry, jewel buyer for the company; and purchased autographed copies of guest speaker Carolyne Roehm’s latest book, “A Passion for Interiors.”

During a luncheon catered by the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples, attendees focused on host emcee Kellie Burns, NBC-2 news anchor, and Roehm, in a zebra-striped sheath, who spoke of her 10 years designing with Oscar de la Renta and her current passion for interior design. Burns also introduced Town & Country editor-at-large Pamela Fiori, who was present to sign her book, “In the Spirit of Capri.”

While several of the younger men sported fedoras, women of all ages went for the flashiest head wear. Feathers were definitely “in.”

Antique, Italian “opera singer” white kid gloves with embroidered cutouts distinguished Elizabeth Truter rather than her hat. Elizabeth Star took the prize for largest version extant in the tent — a black and white, Christine Moore-fashioned “fanciful flurry of feathers and ribbon,” according to Elizabeth’s luncheon companion Jan Desai. Darby Hill had picked up her John Koch partridge feather design in a Chicago vintage shop.

The sated partygoers headed home, again with gift bags and potted amaryllis after yet another, perennially sold-out millinery extravaganza. According to botanical garden communications manager Shannon Palmer, combined estimated net proceeds from the two events will reach around $300,000. Individual tickets for the opening celebration cost $250 and the “Hats” luncheon $500.

Celebration Week sponsor was The Scotts-Miracle Gro Company; Northern Trust, Hats in the Garden presenting sponsor.

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