Garden fundraiser gets better with age and growth

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 117 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — Guests mingled under the setting sun Thursday (May 10) for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks’ signature event, its annual Greening of the Garden fundraiser.

Tents were nestled in the heart of the garden’s greenery as more than 400 guests chatted and dined against a backdrop of exotic flowers, native plants, earthy sculptures. This year’s Greening, dubbed An Enchanted Evening, was the 17th in the organization’s 18 years of existence.

Ticket sales, live and silent auctions and a raffle brought in more than $45,000 for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks’ educational programming and operational costs, said Liz Esch, the garden’s director of special events.

Among the garden’s upcoming projects: the construction of an educational pavilion, completion of the Kiwanis Reading Railroad and the development of the Klingaman Arboretum.

The garden has been open to the public since 2007 and had more than 40,000 visitors last year.

“We’re trying to educate another 10,000 students, so open your checkbooks tonight and help us out,” urged Walt Eilers, president of garden’s board of directors.

In addition to helping with programming costs, funds from last year’s even also went to help establish the garden’s new butterfly house. The structure showcases native butterflies and was a hit among the guests at the party.

Hannah and Greg Lee, longtime supporters of the garden, were the event’s honorary chairmen.

“They have supported the garden from the time that it was just a dream,” Esch said.

Guests paid $75 each or reserved a table of 10 for $900. The night culminated in a rousing live auction during which guests bid on tickets to sit in the University of Arkansas chancellor's skybox for the Arkansas-Rutgers football game, a landscaping package, a garden dinner party catered by James at the Mill executive chef Miles James and more. Jake and Woody from the Big Kix
Morning Show served as auctioneers. Dinner was catered by the Tavola Trattoria.