Is there a better place to appreciate the sheer beauty of NE Ohio on a summer evening than at a place determined to cultivate and preserve said beauty? Not only does the hosting organization, Holden Forests and Gardens step up to nurture local flora and fauna, it also has a fledgling program to train people to maintain one of the area’s assets as valuable as Lake Erie, our trees.
For the annual Woodland Twilight, attendance was up, with 450 guests gathering for crafted cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and raffle. (Trip to Ireland to golf? Sonoma Wine Country, anyone?) Holden’s silent auction is one of the best curated offers going. In addition to Cleveland-centric tickets and events, Holden offers rare shrubs from their gardens, unique outings, and chances to gain private party status at the Botanical Garden’s Rose Show, among other choice options.
Summer dressy/casual was the style as guests wandered from the central greeting spot, to the auction tent, and then over to the main dining area. A jazz trio from Baldwin Wallace University provided sophisticated ambiance. Driftwood Catering passed delicious treats and rounds of a blueberry lemon drop cocktail beforehand, (besides the full bars), and then offered an ideal filet/mahi mahi combination at dinner. The meal was served under an acre of canvas, decorated with tropical flowers and décor overseen by Elizabeth Wheeler.
The event honored Bill and Mary Conway, who have been contributing to Holden in many ways for more than 30 years. A special video was created saluting Mary and Bill, the founder and chairman emeritus of Fairmount Minerals (now Covia). The couple received a photo of Holden’s butterfly garden, taken by Ohio artist Ian Adams.
Proceeds from the benefit were designated for Tree Corps, a community workforce development program. Through classroom and field work adults from various backgrounds study for 19 weeks to engage in careers connected to urban tree care. The program is a major part of HF&G’s work to reforest Cleveland’s declining urban tree canopy. Tree Corps, now in its second year, has two dozen graduates ready and able to fight urban blight and help trees grow in a healthy way. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER