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Palm Beach Social Diary

With Lily Pulitzer's towering banyan in the background, several hundred green thumbs converged in this magnificent South End tropical garden for Sunday afternoon's annual Mounts Botanical Garden spring benefit.
Landmark Palm Beach estate hosts Mounts Botanical Garden benefit
By Augustus Mayhew


Palm Beachers are among the world's most generous benefactors and it is especially rewarding when they focus on their own backyard. And although the Mounts Botanical Garden is on the other side of the bridge, for many of the island's green thumbs it is the area's garden grand central, providing programs, classes, demonstration gardens, plant collections, and events that inspire the value of gardening in our everyday lives.

The 14th annual Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden spring benefit's chairpersons Polly Reed and Jean Matthews brought together a vast amount of resources for Sunday afternoon's garden gala held once again, an encore, at Merrilyn Bardes' South End estate that could have been anywhere between the South of France and Lake Como. Funds raised will go towards transforming the Herb Garden into a more formal Garden of Well-Being, adding coral stones, a Persian-style fountain, and enhancing the existing trees and plants to create a more sub-tropical environment.
Troy and Polly Reed. With Polly checking on the party's myriad of last-minute details, Troy directed the front-of-the-house arrivals and departures with the finesse of an airport controller.
Designed by Volk & Maass, the façade of this splendid Banyan Road landmark is emblematic of what became Palm Beach's most recognizable architectural calling card. First known as La Loma, "The Hill," it was later called Casa Alto y Seco, "House of High and Dry," when it was owned by H. Loy and Therese Anderson.
The pool is accented with vintage urns and framed by a terra-cotta wall filled with colorful bougainvillea as Delhaven Quinn wonders at the turtle sculpture afloat in the shallow end.
Guests make their way through the reception area.
The two-story reception gallery steps down onto the loggia, one of Palm Beach's iconic design features, that opens into the upper terrace.
With the late afternoon sun keeping the clouds and showers away, guests lingered on the upper stone terrace where landscape architect Mario Nievera designed a Moroccan-inspired fountain.
The raffle table being set up on the west side of the pool between the upper and lower terraces.
A Chinese coat was one of the popular offerings during the silent auction.
Susan Stautberg and the event's co-chairperson Jean Matthews.
Wylene Commander and Bess Summers.
Paul Suschak and Jimmy Cates.
Lee and Jeff Alderton with Ann Carmichael.
Catherine Ford Brister and Jerry Guy.
Doug Buck and Bobbie Lindsay-Buck.
Lacy Davisson Doyle and Joe Carroll.
Lesly Smith and James Walsh.
Linda Brower and architect Ken Brower.
Susan McAllister.
Many of the area's choice orchid growers donated a stunning array for the silent auction. The party's most generous Orchid Sponsors were Will and Jean Matthews and Sanchez and Maddux Inc., Landscape Architecture.
Orchids were abloom as this past winter was unseasonably warm.
Adding a subtle dash of color by the pool.
Rod and Cece Titcomb with Leslie Randolph and Town Attorney Skip Randolph.
Kathryn Kane and Isabel Furland.
A kiwi pinwheel was also one of the silent auction offerings.
Stephen and Audrey Norman.
Joan Alleman and Marti Strater.
Thomas and Catalina Miller.
A view looking west across the pool towards the South County Road wing of the main house. From the terrace fountain, a view towards the terrace off the formal living room.
Beth Dowdle.
Roger Lawson.
Janice Stern and Annette Geddes.
Alice Bojanowski, development director for the Mounts Botanical Garden.
Lily Pulitzer's mighty banyan in the backyard.
A hybrid hibiscus found in the backyard garden.
Visiting the Mounts Botanical Garden

The area's oldest and largest public garden, the Mounts Botanical Garden exhibits native and imported tropical and subtropical plants, exotic trees, tropical fruit, herbs, citrus, palms. Home to the area's Master Gardeners, it provides an array of classes and workshops by professional horticultural advisors and is affiliated with the University of Florida. The Garden Shop has the region's best selection of how-to books on gardening in a sub-tropical environment, native wildlife and the South Florida environment.

The Mounts Botanical Garden board of directors includes Barbara Cook, Bob Eigelberger, Sarah Goldstein, Laura Hristov, Chad Husby, Deborah Kuhnel, Phil Maddux, Leslie Mann, Beverly Miller, Jane Nugent, Clare O'Keeffe, Bill Pederson, Yvette Rochfort, Connie Roy-Fischer, Danny Singh, Kathy Vaughn, Paton White and Michael Zimmerman.
The island color and shade garden.
A royal poinciana tree waiting to bloom.
Clare O'Keeffe and the Esther O'Keeffe Foundation made possible the new bridge.
My Lovely Distraction, 2011. Bridge and Lake Overlook by artist Mark Fuller, made from powder-coated aluminum, stainless steel, and stained wood.
April is butterfly month and special workshops, tours, and a photography class are scheduled. Nectar plants attract butterflies and some of the most colorful and alluring plants are jatropha, lantana, pentas, salvia, porterweed, golden dewdrop and wild coffee.
I had never photographed butterflies, a bit of a challenge.
A shaded rest area to contemplate the garden.
The Mounts is the meeting place for the Palm Beach areas plant-focused clubs including the Bonsai Society, Bromeliad Society, Evening Herb Society, the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society, Herb Society, Florida Native Plant Society, Orchid Society, the Rare Fruit Council, the Palm & Cycad Society and the American Hibiscus Society.
The lettuce patch is part of a demonstration vegetable garden.
Back to Sunday afternoon's benefit …
A view of the pool and gardens from the upper-level terrace.
Sunday at around 7:15, guests seen departing "La Loma" on what was yet another memorable occasion.
For more information contact: Mounts Botanical Garden, 559 North Military Trail, West Palm Beach. 561-355-2431, www.mounts.org
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
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