Scene | Berkshire Botanical Garden: Fête des Fleurs honors The Eagle

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STOCKBRIDGE — In the jewel of a home hidden away in the tall green hedges on their estate "Broad Meadows," Chris and Ellen Greendale are a marked example of what it means to play an integral role in their community. On Friday, July 28, at the height of the summer season, they hosted the Fête des Fleurs, an annual tradition and fundraiser for the Berkshire Botanical Gardens.

This year, Berkshire Botanical was joined by friends from nonprofit cultural organizations to celebrate The Berkshire Eagle, revived under new ownership since May 2016, for being an "essential civic resource providing coverage of issues key to life in New England Communities."

Eagle President Fredric D. Rutberg joined in the festivities along with fellow co-owners Hans Morris and Robert G. Wilmers, Publisher Alan English, Executive Editor Kevin Moran, Deputy Managing Editor for Features Lindsey Hollenbaugh and Marketing Director Leigh Davis.

In honoring The Eagle, each guest received a "press pass," a clever way of fashioning a name tag, to wear. More than 180 attended the event, which had ticket prices ranging from $175 for members to $195 for non-members. Special guests, supporters, members of the board, administration and staff members arrived from The Mount, the Shaker Museum,The Clark Art Institute, The Trustees of Reservations, Jacob's Pillow Dance, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Barrington Stage Company, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures along local businesses A.J. Schnopp Jr. Construction Inc. and Main Street Hospitality.

Just before sunset, the Greendale home came alive with music, hors d'oeuvres and summer libations above glowing meadows of springing wildflowers.

This majestic home of both Victorian and Queen Anne influence was purchased by the Greendales in 1997.

"We underwent a four-year restoration from the ground up and everything is new," said homeowner Chris Greendale. The couple said that after taking an interest in and supporting Berkshire Botanical Gardens they discovered that the previous owner of the estate, Irene Bottsford Hoffman, donated the land which is now made up the gardens they so love.

As guests gathered in clusters inside the house and upon the lush grounds, timeless melodies resonated throughout from popular pianist Benny "Fingers" Kohn. Kohn said he has been playing piano since he was 5, and his music clearly demonstrated his skill, experience and love of the craft.

Berkshire Botanical Executive Director Michael Beck said, "I couldn't be happier with the weather and the turnout. We are so happy to honor The Eagle."

Dorthe Hviid, director of horticulture for Berkshire Botanical, took a moment to pose for a photo with Director of Marketing and Communications Robin Parow. Hviid, who just celebrated her 25th year at the gardens, called her experience there: "My best job ever."

Cloud-like tents awaited guests as they made their way to dinner in the foregrounds of the house where there were 20 tables of sponsored seating, four of which were named "Eagle" and decorated with flying eagle topiary centerpieces, each carrying The Berkshire Eagle newspaper in its talons.

Opening remarks at dinner were given by Beck, followed by board Chairman Matthew Larkin. Beck began by making the audience laugh with this: "I'd like to start on behalf of everyone at the Botanical Garden by offering my sincere apologies to the management and ownership of The Berkshire Eagle because, little did you know, that tonight was the night we were launching a competing newspaper. `The Garden Bug' is going to eat you for lunch."

Beck held up a copy of The Garden Bug. The souvenir newspaper printed specially for the night served as the evening's program with articles highlighting achievements and milestones of The Eagle and Botanical Garden. Copies of the four-page newspaper were placed next to every dinner plate and proved to be the perfect reading material for every guest.

Beck then read off numerous headlines of articles published in The Eagle covering the Berkshire Botanical Gardens and its educational programs and services.

Beck added, "Our transformative capital project to restore and expand our center house building will enable us to offer even more to our local community, and that campaign by far the largest in our garden history."

Later, Rutberg, along with his wife Judith Monachina, graciously posed for a photo with The Eagle's newest "competitor" — Berkshire Botanical's The Garden Bug.

As the evening ended under a flamingo sunset, Robin Parow, director of marketing and communications, gave a final comment.

"Tonight we honor The Berkshire Eagle, joined by staff from Berkshire nonprofits," Parow said. "It's a wonderfully festive night to give The Eagle a huge thumbs up for all they do in our community. They truly provide the `best view of the Berkshires,' and we feel it is important to recognize that they continuously go the extra mile to cover the missions and activities of Berkshire nonprofits."


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