Palm Beach Social Diary: April on Palm Beach

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“Family Sitting.” Susanne Durst, right, with her son Alexander and daughter-in-law Eva, along with her grandchildren, welcomed Mounts Botanical Garden supporters to the family’s North End compound for the horticultural organization’s annual benefit. When sporadic rain showers threatened the event, the Durst family pitched in and opened up the property’s spacious guest house that secured the event.

This morning’s wave break had a slight curl, the water was bliss, and shorebirds were increasingly scarce. April’s humidity suggests Palm Beach’s seasonal hiatus is well underway, its charitable convergence and social marathon more measured. The resort’s fabled settings are being struck and Bentleys garaged, ballrooms and dining rooms darkened, terrace and courtyard fountains unplugged. Cliff dwellers are packing away their dazzling stagecraft, designer gowns, make-up trunks, tea caddies, and jewelry vaults.

No more need for that deep breath and last-minute-look in the vanity mirror before stepping in front of a photographic tableau vivant destined for society pages and silver frames atop fireplace mantels and coffee tables. Lawns are tweezer spotless, hedges razor-sharp, and orchids remain in full bloom, as if not a day has passed since the Fall when it all began.

At a luncheon a few weeks ago, when my host was asked how a mutual friend passed away, she replied in a serious tone, “Brie and champagne. She wouldn’t stop, we warned her but she would only down champagne and brie.”

Of course, following lunch I immediately checked the PDR and the Mayo Clinic’s website to see if there might be an insurance code for Palm Beach Syndrome with specific mention of brie and champagne toxicity. Finding none, I thought it might have only been a metaphorical French reference to something found in Sartre’s No Exit.

Customarily, the Civic Association’s Toast to Our Town celebratory brunch and The Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden’s Spring Benefit mark the season’s final curtain. On Sunday, as offshore winds pushed the storm clouds to the west shortly before the event was set to start, Susanne and Douglas Durst along with The Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden welcomed more than 300patrons and friends for cocktails, exotic hors d’oeuvres, raffle drawings, and a silent auction. Founded in 1978 and set on 14 acres with 23 gardens, The Mounts is the oldest and largest public garden in Palm Beach County.

The event’s co-chairman Polly Reed and Sandy Smith were joined by committee members Meg Bowen, Bill Brady, Martha Gilbert, Julie Kime, Leslie Mann, Beverly Myers, Anne Pepper, and Paton White. Among the benefit’s sponsors: Rebecca and Randell Doane, Kit Panill, Diana Barrett and Bob Vila, Elena and John Brim, Beverly Myers, Bill and Sally Soter, Dean and Jane Woodman, Ruth Arneson and Rodney Johnson, Linda and Keith Beaty, Lucy and Nat Day, Edith Dixon, Frances and Jeff Fisher, Gillian Fuller, Patrick and Heather Henry, John and Lynn McAtee, Hawley and John McAuliffe, Lorraine Odasso, Caroline Sory, Anne and Charlie Pepper, John and Dorothy Spofford, Louise Stephaich, Susan Taylor, Templeton & Company, Cecily and Rodney Titcomb, William and Kathy Vaughan, and Elaine and Michael Zimmerman.

8 April 2018
19th Annual Mounts Botanical Garden Spring Benefit
North Lake Way – Palm Beach

Sandy Smith, the benefit’s co-chairman, with her husband Raymond Tollman.
Polly Reed, co-chairman of the event, with Ted Rabidoux and Lucy Sholley.
Café Cocoanut catered the event. Marvelous.
Eileen Fass and Irene Goodkind.
L to R.: Douglas Durst.; Vickie Johnston.
Mike and Meg Bowen.
Jeff Krebs, director of philanthropy for the Mounts Botanical Garden.
A garden bench of some note.
Kyle Kahriman, Bill Blundin, and Jennifer Garrigues.
Cookie Potter and Diana Holt.
The silent auction offered this extraordinary book.
The specimen plants were among the most popular silent auction items.

At the Mounts Botanical Garden …

“ … to inspire and educate through nature.”
In the Butterfly Garden.

Blume Tropical Wetland Garden.
The garden’s Washed Ashore: Art to Save America exhibition showcases sculptures made from plastic pollutants, bottle caps, beer cans, and the like.

Butterfly at work.

Back at the party …

Beneath the tent between raindrops …
Fernando Wong.
Joyce McLeary and Kathy Vaughan.
Susan and John Connor.
Bobbie Lindsey and Susanne Durst.
Rodney Johnson and Ruth Arneson.
Carole Martin.
Cooky Donaldson and Jennifer Garrigues.
White orchids in the window.
The Neil Boucher Combo entertained.
Diana Barrett and Bob Vila.

At the Gardens …

Among them, a meditative Garden of Tranquility, Begonia Garden, Children’s Maze, Garden of Extremes, Garden of Well-Being, Gazebo Garden, Tropical Forest, O’Keeffe Rain Garden, Rose Garden, and a Tropical Cottage Garden.

Torn wings.

Waterfall at Windows on the Floating World. Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County.

Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur

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