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Bettina’s Take: The New York Botanical Garden’s Conservatory Ball


Cosby George, Timothy George

Sunny with a cool breeze was the perfect weather leading into "An Evening at the Alhambra", the theme for this year's New York Botanical Gardens Conservatory Ball.

Trumpeters playing music from Carmen, Bizet's Seville-based opera, greeted arriving guests from just beyond the parking lot. "I thought the Alhambra was in Granada," I said to Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. "The Seville Alhambra is just as beautiful, though less well-known," he replied.


The Botanical Gardens recreated an Alhambra-style garden in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and this New York Alhambra was very impressive indeed. The indoor courtyard, replete with fountains, arcades, and the most fragrant flowers imaginable—including jasmine and gardenias— transported one directly to Spain.

The exterior garden was incredible as well, with multiple varieties of roses and all sorts of beautiful flowers. (In her speech later in the evening, Chairman Maureen Chilton made the point that "this is the largest botanical garden in any U.S. city with a million plants under our care." Quite an achievement.)

This special affair was filled with beautiful people, too. I asked another of the night's chairs, Cosby George, why she chose to support the event. "It provides such wonderful education for all the children in the New York Metropolitan area in science, an education they wouldn't get otherwise," she explained.

No wonder the evening raised $1.7 million.

Marcia Mishaan, Gillian Miniter, Muffie Potter Aston

Guests were treated to all things Spanish, including the wine, and a dinner catered by Glorious Food consisting of melon and Spanish ham, paella, and flan with raspberries.

"The whole Spanish/Moroccan/Alhambra theme is wonderful, that's why I'm wearing my 'genie' Judith Leiber bag," said Alexandra Lebenthal, in a yellow Angel Sanchez gown, as several people made attempts to rub the lamp and get the genie to make the national deficit disappear.

Muffie Potter Aston, Kamie Lightburn (in Oscar de la Renta), Richard Mishaan and Marcia Mishaan (in Naeem Khan), and Gillian Miniter stayed for a little music and dancing before getting back on the highway to return to Manhattan, leaving "Spain" behind.

Photos: Cosby George and Timothy George (top left); Marcia Mishaan, Gillian Miniter, and Muffie Potter Aston (bottom right)