Friday, May 4, 2018

Garden Art & Antiques Fair VIP Preview at The New York Botanical Garden

Last evening was the annual Garden Art & Antiques Fair at The New York Botanical Garden VIP Preview Party, Collectors’ Plant Sale, and Silent Auction.

There are 30 exhibitors offering one-of-a-kind, unique garden ornaments and furniture.

The Fair is tucked into a tent opposite the Enid A Haupt Conservatory; the walk in between was filled with soft jazz music serenading arriving guests and the rare and beautifully grown garden plants hand-selected by NYBG’s horticultural team.

Expectations were high. Last year, one of my favorite garden design client’s purchased - dare I say, snagged -- the most charming statues on pedestals of the Four Seasons - rendered as children; purchased from Milne’s At Home Antiques. Milne offers extraordinary quality and value for their wares - many of them sourced from Kent and Essex in England.

My plus-one was celebrated photo essayist and storyteller Angie Lambert (be sure to check out her cover on Bella Grace magazine, available June 1). 
Photo narrator Angie Lambert chatting with fellow Ohian / antique dealer 

In years past, the tent was cool inside yet warmed by garden bonhomie, refreshments, and “fevered” purchasing.

This year was no different except that it was very, very hot - given the soaring mercury the last few days here in Gotham. Later, when a flash storm swooshed down there was plenty of drama to match the stars inside.

This event always attracts the hoi polloi of hort and last night was no exception.

Bunny Williams, who the NY Times referred to as “The doyenne of cozy chic,” is the Chair of the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House (since 2012) was there. I love her designs - and her Kips Bay “Gilded Knot” room at Kips Bay.

How she manages to attend and support all the benefits is inspired passion…

Barbara Frelinghuysen Israel, Barbara Israel Garden Antiques, is surely the quintessential doyenne and leading authority on period ornaments from around globe. I always ask her what the trends are that she’s seeing. This year she explained modernist pieces are increasingly popular while she pointed to seating she recently acquired for sale. I agree. Especially as I’m enjoying creating a mid-century garden design for a client. So many cool looks.

Likewise, Barbara continued, pieces with graphics are trending and American items - fueled in part by David and Peggy Rockefeller’s estate sale at Christie’s. She added that of course the classic ornaments are always popular.
Barbara is always a lot of fun, as well. I enjoy talking to her and, ahem, sharing champagne!

My friend John Danzer, Munder Skiles, exterior designer and restoration guru, was there too, having donated some of his impeccable garden furniture for the Preview’s Silent Auction. John shared some wonderful news about upcoming opportunities - then promptly asked that I not report on it until all the ink is dry on this and that. Pshaw. John is such a tease! But it’s all good. Stay tuned.

And it’s always a joy to see Melissa Ozawa, features editor at Martha Stewart Living.

For the first time, there were five book signings and a floral demo by author Cathy Graham for her book, Second Bloom: Cathy Graham’s Art of the Table by Graham and Alexis Clark.

Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey were front and center autographing their new book, Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering, and Enjoying.

And we so enjoyed chatting it up with both authors while they signed our multiple copies of the book. They are so nice and engaging. With ever the eye for detail, Kevin asked about the jade buttons on my radish dress (so apropos for a garden event, no?!) which in turn led to another conversation where Martha decried a recent fashion faux pas where online audiences were throwing shade at a young women’s style that was similar to the dress I was wearing. This “shade” is not of the garden growing intent...


About the book: If you don’t already own it as part of your library - you need to get this tome.

It’s a useful guide, brimming with surefire tips from these two masters of all things flower - and lots of gorgeous photos. So it’s also a coffee table book, sure to spark garden chats. I especially like the tablescape and serving suggestions - they are presented as what I can only describe as still life art. Can’t wait to really “dig in” to this pretty and practical book.

I had the chance to spend a few minutes with garden friend, Barbara Paul Robinson, who while an attorney by profession, is also a garden historian and author. Her book, Heroes of Horticulture, Americans Who Transformed the Landscape, looks like it’s going to be a joy to read after Barbara gave us a sneak peek about the featured heroes included in the book, such as my former “boss,” Betty Scholtz! I love that woman.

Thank you, Barbara - we need this book - it should be required reading - especially for the next generation of Horticulture enthusiasts.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see nor talk to garden associate and rather prolific garden writer and author, Jane Garmey. Her newest book is City Green: Public Gardens of New York.

Author Thomas Jayne was on hand, signing copies of his book, Classic Principles for Modern Design: Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman’s The Decoration of Houses. Whew - that’s a long title!

However, the Garden Art and Antiques Fair will not be around for long. It’s as ephemeral as today’s cherry blossoms.

So it’s imperative that you hop up to the Garden for this weekend-long celebration

featuring the choicest plants, antiques, and art. As the Garden notes, “You can explore a wide range of decorative art and classic furniture of the finest quality—some with a modern twist, both elegant and fanciful—for the home and garden from nearly 30 leading dealers. New for 2018, experts take the stage for engaging and informative sessions on topics from interior to floral design. Guests can meet and mingle with prominent designers who will share their expertise by offering advice on how to incorporate items purchased at the Fair into their own homes and gardens.”

Friday through Sunday brings a newly expanded specialty plant sale at NYBG Shop featuring trees, shrubs, vines, hard-to-find perennials, herbs, and annuals from some of horticulture’s finest growers.

NYBG Shop’s expert staff will be on hand to help you make the perfect selections.

On Saturday, after exploring the Fair, watch artists create masterful works as more than 20 established plein-air artists spread out across the grounds during the Garden’s Third Annual Plein-Air Invitational. Finished art will be available for purchase.

Expert-led guided tours of NYBG’s renowned gardens and collections and live music round out this perfect spring weekend.”

The Garden Art & Antiques Fair takes place in the Conservatory Tent with The New York Botanical Garden’s landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory as its magnificent backdrop. It is the ideal venue for learning about garden antiques and building personal collections. Admission to the Fair on Friday through Sunday, May 4 through 6, is included with the All-Garden Pass, which also provides access to the Botanical Garden grounds, seasonal gardens, attractions such as the Haupt Conservatory, and Tram Tour.

Don’t miss the glory of the fleeting spring garden art…

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