Science met beauty last Tuesday for the Friends of the National Arboretum’s Dinner Under the Stars.
The charity event, set in one of the most beautiful and unique settings in the DC area, starts off with a cocktail hour and live music in The Herb Garden. It’s no surprise the Arboretum’s founding is rooted in research, as the FONA continue to perfect each detail of the event. From vibrant speakers, to delicious food, river tour raffles, breathtaking views… and let’s not forget luxury outdoor bathrooms! FONA’s Dinner Under the Stars continues to awe.
K Street Mag was lucky enough to have volunteer Audrie Whitney lead our tram tour for the 2nd year in a row. (Grab a seat in the front if you can because the tram breaks can get a little loud.)
Whitney is a walking encyclopedia filled with backstories on the grounds and insights on each collection. In what seems to be her most excited introduction, she gives high praise for the Washington Youth Garden, saying it continues to “expose kids in our community to different vegetables and allowed them to discover all nature can offer.”
The tour this year, full of fun facts, gives its biggest nod to the state of New Jersey for its contributions, such as the Watnong Collection featuring numerous dwarf pines, and the conifer collection donated by William Gotelli. It isn’t called the Garden State for nothing!
Tours were followed by a tented farm-to-table dinner in the Grand Meadow and concluded with a sunset walk to the National Capitol Columns.
Past and current congressional members joined in for the evening, but only one state had both senators on the event’s honorary committee — Pennsylvania. This year’s keynote speaker was Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, who joked that the Arboretum attendance will increase thanks to his 14 grandchildren visiting this summer.
The clear stand out of the event, FONA Chair Barbara Shea took the stage to remind guests that the Arboretum’s existence is based in advocacy and support from everyday people.
She proclaimed, “If you look carefully behind most agriculture and horticulture initiatives, in fact any worthwhile efforts, you will find a M.O.W, a mean old woman.” She then tipped her hat to the women like Ethel Garrett and Sally Boasburg, who helped make the Arboreum a reality.
In closing, Shea stated, “I am told that Secretary Perdue has often said that we are all stewards of the land, owned or rented or simply enjoyed, and we have an obligation to leave it better than we found it. The U.S. National Arboretum is a place where we can teach people young and old to do just that. But if we do not work together to enhance and interpret the collections, provide robust programming, create a memorable visitor experience and tell our story, then shame on us. This is the National Arboretum.”