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Lotusland Celebrates ‘Gods & Goddesses’ at Greek-Themed Event

The spirited annual soiree raises more than $600,000 for the botanical garden in Montecito and its educational programs

Lotusland board president Connie Pearcy with Jarratt Rouse, dressed as Greek messenger god Hermes, at the July 31 “Gods & Goddesses” fundraiser for the botanical garden.
Lotusland board president Connie Pearcy with Jarratt Rouse, dressed as Greek messenger god Hermes, at the July 31 “Gods & Goddesses” fundraiser for the botanical garden. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Lotusland presented its over-the-top annual event with a Greek-themed celebration called “Gods & Goddesses” on July 31.

The soiree’s color theme of pastel yellow-gold and green was carried throughout the outdoor garden fete — from the long-flowing dresses of mythical goddesses to the gold-trimmed wine glasses.

From the time a guest stepped onto the Ganna Walska-inspired garden property until the crowd said farewell at sunset, it was “all things Greek.” Walking along the garden paths to the main event on the large lawn, guests interacted with costumed Greek mythical figures such as Aphrodite, Apollo, Flora & Fauna, Hermes, Pan and Zeus, as well as a variety of water and tree nymphs. It was such great fun as attendees were transported to a world of long ago!

Many of the characters and refreshments were sponsored by underwriters who donated to make every aspect of the event such a magical afternoon. As an example, the Greek God of Wine Bacchus (sponsored by Cliff and Crystal Wyatt) was perched on a couch in a tree high above the outdoor bar, oversaw all the libations and greeted everyone from overhead.

“Our winery is located in the Santa Rita Hills in the Santa Ynez Valley," Christine Bruce Hillard, wearing a sharp-looking navy blue polka-dot dress,.told Noozhawk. "Hilliard Bruce Wines is happy to donate the white wine for the fundraiser.”

The annual event was led by co-chairs Jennie Grube and Crystal Wyatt, vice-chairs Belle Hahn Cohen and Rachel Wryan, as well as a large committee. The committee was supported by the Board of Trustees, which includes president Connie Pearcy and members Marc Appleton, Daniel Bifano, Belle Hahn Cohen, Geoff Crane, William Daughtery, Ian Fisher Dorothy Gardner, Deborah Longo, Suzanne Mathews, Mimi Michaelis, Eileen Rasmussen, George Schoelkopf, Mike Thomas, Caroline Thompson, Susanne Tobey, Peggy Wiley, Crystal Wyatt and Yasmine Zodeh, aided by Executive Director Gwen Stauffer and Development Director Anne Dewey.

From left, Daniel Launspach, Roger Durling, Bruce Heavin, Lynda Weinman and Lotusland Executive Director Gwen Stauffer.
From left, Daniel Launspach, Roger Durling, Bruce Heavin, Lynda Weinman and Lotusland Executive Director Gwen Stauffer. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

The live auction was very active! The bidding on Daniel Gibbings’ ancient Greek coin medallion necklace was lively with the gavel finally going down at $33,000. Ganna Walska’s niece Hania Tallmadge donated one of her aunt’s beautiful antique coral bracelets. The legendary piece of jewelry raised $20,000 for Lotusland.

Other highly sought after live auction items included Dinner for 10: A Feast for the Gods, Adopt a Garden and an Instant Wine Cellar, an amazing and rare collection of more than 90 bottles donated by a bevy of wine aficionados.

Lotusland representatives were thrilled with the amazing generosity of members and guests.

“The event raised over $600,000," said Bob Craig, director of marketing and communications for Ganna Walska Lotusland. "We expect that $400,000 will go into the garden and our educational programs. We met and exceeded our goals!”

Sponsors included Hero Sponsor L.L.W.W. Foundation, Duo Catering & Events, Daniel Gibbings, Connie and John Pearcy, Hanie Talmadge, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, Marc and Joanna Appleton, Gary and Susanne Tobey, the Dancing Tides Foundation, William and Alexandra Daugherty, president Connie Pearcy, directors Michael and Kimberly Thomas and Larry and Patricia Durham, the Kind World Foundation, Suzanne and Gilbert Mathews, Lucifer Lighting, Edward and Judy Shea, Christopher Toomey, Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin, Sam and Yasmine Zodeh, Lori Johnston and Chris Castillo, and many others.

Duo Catering & Events impressed the discerning audience with a main dish of short ribs with crushed blue potatoes, sautéed broccolini, caper berries, shaved radishes, pickled carrots and pink peppercorn, followed by a dessert of a fig and apricot tart with honeycomb. The main course was served with a sumptuous 2014 Margerum M5 wine donated by Doug Margerum.

Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, purchased the Montecito estate in 1941 and spent the next 43 years creating Lotusland. The spectacular collections of exotic plants throughout the 37-acre property are a personal expression of Walska’s penchant for the dramatic, the unexpected and the whimsical. After her death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit botanical garden and opened to the public in 1993. Lotusland’s educational programs serve the greater Santa Barbara community and its visitors, and its innovative horticultural practices are shared with botanic gardens and garden lovers around the world.

For more information about Lotusland, click here or call 805.969.9990.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. This article includes reportinf Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

The event committee. Click to view larger
The event committee. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)
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