Julian Marley to perform at annual ‘Soirée in Garden’

By Lynn Willie Fichman….
It is fast becoming Pinecrest’s party of the year, a greatly anticipated annual event. Beside the fine food, wine and top tier concert that are offered there, more than anything else it is the setting that makes this a truly outstanding fundraiser hosted by an organization whose sole purpose is to beautify it.

Before it was known as Pinecrest Gardens, it was a major South Florida destination, one of the most frequented stops on the tourist circuit. Many who visited Miami from the 1940s to the late ’90s recall sitting in the Banyan Bowl as trained exotic birds whizzed past their heads or posing for photos with their outstretched arms serving as parrot stands.

The birds no longer reside there and the alligators who once sunned themselves in the small lagoons have long since been relocated to Watson Island to be a part of the larger more tourist accessible Jungle Island, but what has been left behind is by far one of the most unique natural environments to be found anywhere.

Now that it is owned by the Village of Pinecrest it is beginning to earn the title of world class treasure. It had been a victim of neglect and the wrath of Mother Nature by the time the purchase of the property was com-pleted in 2000, but since that time it has been going through a sweeping transformation.

The Garden Fund, a non-profit organization formed in 2007, has been working to assist the Village government with that task, and they have been doing just that with money raised from private citizens, family foundations, memberships, sponsors and through the annual Soiree in the Garden.

This year’s fete will take place on Friday, Feb. 25, in Pinecrest Gardens. The lighting is in place, the refurbished Banyan Bowl is ready and the many details of putting on this important fundraiser are coming together with the precision of a finely tuned orchestra.

The Soiree will begin at 6:30 p.m. and guests will be greeted with a glass of wine and Deborah Fleisher’s hypnotic harp as they stroll through the giant Banyan trees toward the magnificent terrace area that overlooks Swan Lake. Here the piano music of Jimmy B will serenade while everyone peruses the silent auction tables and enjoys appetizers and drinks. Bidding is generally fierce and cordially competitive for many coveted bargains that will be offered for sale.

Later the call to dinner will be sounded and a quick walk to the meadow will lead guests to glowing tables and a delicious buffet extravaganza presented by Phillip Gillan of Island Noodles, a catering company that specializes in fresh and wholesome fare prepared on site.

The legendary desserts will be abundant and decadent; lovingly prepared and delivered by Garden Fund volunteers. They are always a tremendous hit.

The concert that is to follow all of this will no doubt be the crescendo of the evening. This year the Fund is proud to present Julian Marley, “Acoustic and Unplugged” in the Banyan Bowl. This intimate concert by one of the most notable members of a royal rock family promises to be a sold-out affair.

All proceeds from the evening will directly benefit horticulture at the Garden and the Fund’s board of directors is grateful for the generous support of its sponsors, including the Village of Pinecrest, Whole Foods Market of Pinecrest, NCL and the Corradino Group.

Participation in this rare night-time event in the Garden can be had for a fraction of what is often paid for similar amenities in far less exotic settings. Tickets for the entire evening are $100 each and tables of 10 are $900. A limited number of “concert only” seats are available for $40 in advance and $45 at the door beginning at 9 p.m. Tickets for the fifth annual Soiree in the Garden may be purchased online at www.gardenfund.org or by calling 305- 669-1028.

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