“Would you look at that hollyhock!”
Nevermind the parade of uptown patrons in summery ballgowns — Thursday evening at the New York Botanical Garden, the flora and fauna were the most gasped-about. Drawing an especially enthusiastic reaction was a stock of the pink flowering plant. “Why, it must be 13 feet tall,” continued the fan.
Rudy and Judith Giuliani, Cornelia Guest, Ariana Rockefeller, Eliza and Alex Bolen, Kick Kennedy, Peter Copping and more made the trek out of Manhattan and up to the Bronx for the annual spring conservatory ball, arriving in a flurry of Ubers and quickly finding a mint julep.
“Chicken and waffles? It’s a southern dish,” offered a server to an older gentleman, apparently anticipating that such an explanation was necessary.
The night was in celebration of the summer exhibit, “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas,” and was sponsored by Oscar de la Renta.
“My grandmother used to wear Oscar, and they were close friends,” said Rockefeller, in one of Copping’s designs for the house. “So it’s nice to be another generation wearing Oscar. But I think this is the first full gown that I’ve worn of [Copping’s].”
“I think it’s amazing you can do all this with a telephone,” marveled a guest entangled in a selfie, who himself professed to owning “a small iPad and a big iPad,” though he had never employed them for their front-facing camera abilities.
Guests took their seats for dinner past 9 p.m., as it was hard to tear people away from the last of the golden-hour daylight in the greenhouse. “Do I smell French fries?” asked a hopeful partygoer, as entered the tent for dinner (alas, there were no fries in sight).
Over dinner, attendees were brushed up on the history of the Botanical Garden, which is celebrating 125 years. “When we were founded, 125 years ago, it was a fervent desire of the citizens that were philanthropists of New York City, that we would in this town come to possess a botanical garden as distinguished as those in many European cities,” said Gregory Long, president and chief executive officer of the Botanical Garden. He discussed the accomplishments of the garden, telling the crowd that “in education, we are unsurpassed by any other botanical garden. Ninety-thousand school children come here every year.”
By 11 p.m., dancing had eclipsed dessert, and the partygoers shut the place down — a little too literally, as power outages stunted the tent’s DJ booth. “If we could have someone help?” asked a flustered emcee into his mic. “Whoever is running the generator?”