A Celtic Garden Tea Party

The Celtic Tree of Life

By Ken McFarland, Georgeson Botanical Garden Society Board Member

The creativity and talents of local community members are being harnessed to find imaginative ways to assist the Georgeson Botanical Garden (GBG) at UAF. Created 3 1/2 years ago, the Georgeson Botanical Garden Society presents festive events that bring additional funding opportunities and awareness of the value of the GBG to the attention of residents. These fund raising events have included Garden Tea Parties and Fairs, with themes including a Victorian Tea, and an Alaska Statehood Tea.

The fundraising event for summer 2010 is “A Celtic Garden Tea Party,” from 1 - 4 PM on Sunday July 11th. This event will weave together the tartans, plaids & kilts of Scotland with the symbolic green of Ireland, and the best Tea foods from both countries. Buffet-style Tea service featuring authentic scones with jam and cream, shortbread, Irish soda bread, traditional cakes and tea-breads, served with classic British teas will kick-off the festivities. Live music will accompany the Tea. A large wedding pavillion will shelter the musicians and guests.

Music in the pavilion begins with Anam Cara, an ensemble that plays traditional harp, fiddle and whistle tunes from Scotland and Ireland. At 2:30 PM the Red Hackle Bagpipe Band will arrive to play the stirring sounds of the Scottish Bagpipes and lead a Grand March to the Pipes through the Garden. The “Grand March” is a social happening descended from Victorian times or earlier, when it was used to introduce people to each other. In this case it is being used to show off the numerous flower beds and specialty gardens  at the research-based botanical garden.

People who have a family tartan, kilt or Irish green are encouraged to wear them for the event. There will be a display of Irish crafts, including weaving, pottery and glass objects, Scottish outdoor games, and of course the chance to visit the diverse plantings of the Garden in full bloom.

It takes a community working together to create successful multi-faceted events such as these. Volunteers meet regularly for months prior, working out organizational and promotional details. Volunteers make mounds of home baked goodies, often using historic family recipes for foods pertinent to the theme. Other people work on the logistical aspects, while still other volunteers coordinate entertainment, a silent auction, music and activities suitable to each theme.

The Society is currently working to finish funding the Drew Amphitheatre, located high on the hillside at the top of the Garden. The namesake, Dr. Jim Drew was the first Dean of the UAF School of Natural Resources and a big supporter of the GBG and agriculture in Alaska. The Drew Amphitheatre will provide a dramatic setting for weddings, community social events, and a unique outdoor lecture venue.

Information and tickets for the fund raiser “Celtic Garden Tea Party” are available at the GBG Gift shop. Further information from 474-5651, 479-5265, or ddinsmore@alaska.net. The Volunteer members of the Georgeson Botanical Garden Society hope that the University employees and Staff will support their efforts to build a better Botanical Garden!

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