The Valley Line: Black-tie benefit boasts bamboo and ikebana

October 05, 2012|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Joining the fun at the Descanso party are Jon and Wende Headley, from left, Doug and Melanie Frey and Steve and Sara Ingrassia.
Joining the fun at the Descanso party are Jon and Wende…

“East Meets Fete” was the theme chosen for “Only at Descanso,” the recent fundraising gala held at Descanso Gardens.

Heather Sturt Haaga, a Descanso trustee, seamlessly chaired the gala that raised $202,000 in support of the botanic garden's education programs for Los Angeles and surrounding area schoolchildren and special-needs students.

“The nice part is that the evening is also a very fun event, truly a community party. Many thanks to all who gave to keep the legacy of Descanso safe for future generations,” Sturt Haaga said.

It was a black-tie affair and Sturt Haaga looked classically beautiful wearing the haute couture color of this year, yellow. Joining her was her husband, Paul; their daughter, Blythe, who came for the event from her home in Chicago; their son, Paul (affectionately known as “Beep”) and his wife, Catalina.

The 200 guests first gathered in the Japanese Garden for cool beverages and plates of passed appetizers. The ponds in the garden reflected the bright-colored lanterns that were suspended on bamboo poles. A blue heron majestically waded through the water in search of his evening tidbit.


It was a lovely setting and it certainly inspired me to try my hand at writing a haiku:

     A misty moon shadow

     dances through the camellias

     A night to savor

Well, not exactly like the haiku masters such as Issa, Shiki, or Basho might have written, but the venue was perfect for such an art form. Other Japanese art forms were on display, too, with small floral arrangements known as ikebana that centered the cocktail tables and a large floral arrangement that was created by Youko Kitajama of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana.

The cocktail chatter was hushed when the sound of Taiko drummers emerged out of the camellia forest. They, along with a costumed, lion-like creature, led guests to the courtyard outside Van de Kamp Hall, where tables were beautifully set for dining.

The dining tables, covered in cloths of autumn-like colors of burgundy and deep orange, were centered with beautiful floral arrangements donated by Descanso trustee Hank Maarse, president of Jacob Maarse Florists in Pasadena.

The Asian fusion dinner was created by Patina and featured salmon with sweet corn ravioli in a brown butter sauce, lime, hazelnuts and early fall mushrooms.

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