This past weekend Moss and Stone Gardens had the honor to assist Helen Yoest with the hosting of the VIP party for the J. C. Raulston Arboretum, which was a wrap-up event for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Ruby C. McSwain education center. After two days of ceremony and appreciation, Saturday night was all about the folks that make the arboretum vital today. Helen as usual was on task for this J.C. jubilee and she wasn’t about to just throw some “come over to my house and knosh on some celery and wine coolers” kind of gathering. No, she was set that the event would be as memorable as the efforts of all the great staff, volunteers and contributors that make the JC Raulston Arboretum the world class horticultural center that it is.
Helen’s Haven is well designed for large gatherings and it was decided that we would add a bamboo and burlap structure centered on the long rectangular lawn to create some atmosphere. Ken and I used two 30 foot bamboo poles to suspend large round paper lanterns, one orange and one white. They were to become symbols for the setting sun and rising moon. The moon was placed high overhead while the sun was hung low over the center of the garden. Paper lanterns were also used for lighting the tables since the party would stretch into the evening hours. To that we added Christmas lights around the structure and throughout the garden at key places, careful to not use too much. The Garden house, knick-named The Love Shack, was repurposed for a beverage station and as the point on the exclamation mark! Tiki torches were dotted about and the music backdrop selected.
Moss, of course, was the centerpiece at the tables and Moss Rocks! were placed to accent the simple and beautiful settings. Patricia, my wife, prepared abundant appetizers and the cornbread muffins that accompanied Helen’s famous white chicken chili. Cupcakes followed the main course, baked by Beth Jimenez and paired with butter pecan ice cream.
The guests arrived and settled in quickly to the inviting venue. Food and drinks were passed around and everyone was soon partying with confidence. Honestly, I can’t remember a party that sported all the right ingredients so well. As the sun set and the arbor lights danced into the night a glow seemed to surround the happy gathering. We were all so enjoying the evening and the company there was no sign of anyone looking for an early exit. The food, fun and ambience combined to satisfy all of our desires for an evening to be remembered.
The J. C. Raulston Arboretum, if you haven’t been before, I highly recommend to visit. It is truly a treasure for North Carolina and inspiration for us all. As for the folks that volunteer and work there, you won’t find a better crowd to spend a evening with.
David Spain a.k.a. Moss Rock
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are credited to Ken Gergle.