“Hats in Bloom” kicks off garden party season

Diane McPhail in a hat she bought Thursday -- and the biggest hatbox I've ever seen!

Diane McPhail in a hat she bought Thursday -- and the biggest hatbox I've ever seen!

In Knoxville, the dawning of spring is starting to mean one thing — garden parties! And what better place to kick off the garden party season than at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, which on Thursday hosted its “Hats in Bloom” party? I am not a hat person. I look terrible in hats. But I love to look at them and I love to watch others who are wearing them. And I love a lunch in a beautiful garden.

For years, I have heard my fashionable friends rave about “Pat, the hat lady.” She makes the most fantastic hats, they all said. Well, now I know what they are talking about. Patricia Frankum is truly a hat magician. Her creations are fanciful and beautiful. They make me wish I were a hat person. Patricia brought dozens of hats to the “Hats in Bloom” luncheon and she sold so many that we caught her on her cell phone urgently calling her husband. “Bring more hats!” she shouted.

Keyes Williamson, the executive director of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, addressed the 50 women as they sipped mimosas prior to lunch. “Hats are like gardens,” he said. “They harken back to a time of refinement in our homes and in our behavior.” Amen to that, brother! If anything can improve our behavior, I say bring it on.

Patricia Franklin, a.k.a. Pat the Hat Lady

Patricia Frankum, a.k.a. Pat the Hat Lady

Jackie Wilson is chair of the “In Bloom” series of events that will raise funds for the Botanical Garden. “Hats in Bloom” was the first in the series.

“Lunch in Bloom” will be May 10 in the garden of Dr. Alan Solomon. His is said to be one of the most expansive sculpture gardens in the Eastern United States. It features native plants, water features and a stunning conifer collection. The garden tour will be followed by a traditional workman’s lunch of beans and franks which Dr. Solomon has been sharing with his workers for over 38 years. Lunch will be served on the terrace with mountain and garden views and costs $30 per person.

“Vino in Bloom” will be May 16 at the home of Milton and Mimi Turner along the banks of the Little River. It is an evening event and will feature a walk through the woodland wildflower garden leading to the Turners’ Little River Artist Retreat. Highlight of that event: sunset! Cost is $50 per ticket.

Finally, “Champagne in Bloom” will be May 23 at Jackie’s own home. Designed to evoke the architecture of Southern France, this home and garden is hidden within a forested hillside on one of Rockford’s picturesque old farms. The garden is a work in progress and features hybrid tea roses, an expansive vegetable garden and (my favorite flower!) a peony garden. Guests will sip champagne while touring the garden followed by a French inspired supper under the trees. Tickets are only $40 per person. Click here to go to the Botanical Garden website for more info.

I just love the garden party season in Knoxville.

It was a beautiful day -- and a beautiful setting.

It was a beautiful day -- and a beautiful setting.

Angie Campbell in a very ornate hat.

Angie Campbell arrived in a very ornate chapeau.

Sheena McCall bought this hat in Annapolis "where the Navy wives buy their hats," she said. "Annapolis is like a candy store for hat lovers!"

Sheena McCall bought this hat in Annapolis "where the Navy wives buy their hats," she said. "Annapolis is like a candy store for hat lovers!"

Gay Lyons bought this hat at Vagabondia on Market Square about four years ago. She just now found a dress to wear with it. Patricia told her, "If you buy the hat, the dress will come!" And it did!

Gay Lyons bought this hat at Vagabondia on Market Square about four years ago. She just now found a dress to wear with it. Patricia told her, "If you buy the hat, the dress will come!" And it did!

Danielle Velez, membership and special events manager, was pouring mimosas.

Danielle Velez, membership and special events manager of the Botanical Garden, was pouring mimosas.

Mary Ann Fee Fennell of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra provided sublime music to shop by.

Mary Ann Fee Fennell, of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, provided sublime music to shop by.

Vicke Baumgartner may be the most amazing woman in Knoxville. She works at the Botanical Garden and also is a fantastic cook, party-giver, gardner and role model.

Vicki Baumgartner may be the most amazing woman in Knoxville. She works at the Botanical Garden and also is a fantastic decorator, cook, party-giver, gardener, community volunteer and inspiration.

Jackie Wilson, right, and Jo Cech

Jackie Wilson, right, and Jo Cech

Phyllis Driver wearing a fascinator.

Phyllis Driver wearing a fascinator.

Melinda Meador is a big fan of hats. She arrived in this one.

Melinda Meador is a big fan of hats. She arrived in this one.

Ellen Robinson trying on a real show-stopper!

Ellen Robinson trying on a real show-stopper!

Mary Sonju, left, and Meriwether Klyce

Mary Sonju, left, and Meriwether Klyce

Anne McKinney, left, a lawyer who has made hats her trademark, with Margaret Fuller

Anne McKinney, left, a lawyer who has made hats her trademark, with Margaret Fuller

Fran Scheidt, left, and Ann Farrar

Fran Scheidt, left, and Ann Farrar

I thought this one was stunning.

I thought this one was stunning.

Shaun Fulco, the CFO of Moxley Carmichael, tried on this great pink hat. She is looking for a hat to wear for her outdoor June wedding to Roger Hyver.

Shaun Fulco, the CFO of Moxley Carmichael, tried on this great pink hat. She is looking for a hat to wear for her outdoor June wedding to Roger Hyver.

Kim Henry

Kim Henry

Someone was about to buy this one, which I really liked.

Someone was about to buy this one, which I really liked.

Even the manequins were beautiful!

Even the mannequins were beautiful!

Mimi Turner

Mimi Turner in a wonderful sun hat

I hope Melinda bought this one because she looks great in it!

I hope Melinda bought this one because she looks great in it!

Gay considered for a long time before giving in to this jaunty little number.

Gay considered for a long time before giving in to this jaunty little number.

Jennifer Holder bought this one, which I loved.

Jennifer Holder bought this one, which I loved.

Allyn Purvis Schwartz

Allyn Purvis Schwartz wearing the first Patricia Frankum hat she ever purchased. How many does she own now? 12.

Mary Guy, left, with Keyes Williamson, executive director of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, and his mother-in-law, Diane McPhail in that great pink hat.

Mary Guy, left, with Keyes Williamson, executive director of the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, and his mother-in-law, Diane McPhail, in that great pink hat.

Judith Foltz looked good in this one she tried on.

Judith Foltz looked good in this one she tried on.

Victoria Cape

Victoria Cape

Gay Lyons, left, with Andi Ray, who used to own Vagabondia and is definitely a hat person.

Gay Lyons, left, with Andie Ray, who used to own Vagabondia and is definitely a hat person.

Keyes Williamson making a few remarks.

Keyes Williamson making a few remarks.

Roasted tomato soup with red peppers was served in tiny, beautifully garnished cups.

Roasted tomato soup with red peppers was served in tiny, beautifully garnished cups.

Crepes filled with chicken and served with a delicate lemony sauce was the main course along with a fresh fruity salad and light biscuit.

Crepes filled with chicken and served with a delicate lemony sauce were the main course along with a fresh fruity salad and light biscuit.

How about this hat-shaped lemon cookie? Caterer was Rex Bradford Jones of Abner's Attic.

How about this hat-shaped lemon cookie? Caterer was Rex Bradford Jones of Abner's Attic.

All in all, a lovely mid-day break in what has been for me a stressful two weeks at work. Thanks to all who made it happen.

All in all, a lovely mid-day break in what has been, for me, a stressful two weeks at work. Thanks to all who made it happen.

10 Responses to ““Hats in Bloom” kicks off garden party season”

  1. What a lovely event! I absolutely loved seeing all of the ladies in hats. It just takes me back to a better time. And it inspired me to get a hat for my lake side wedding in June. I was quite the hat enthusiast in New Orleans. Just never really thought about starting the collection again since moving here. But now…standby… Ha! Thanks for the invite!

  2. This was a really fun party! I love hats and have known and purchsed from Patricia for years at the Rossini Festival and at Vagabondia when it was open. I bought two at this event (hope Peter doesn’t read this post!). Can’t wait to wear them!

  3. Shaun: Thanks for going with me. I think Alan is particularly grateful that you went — so he didn’t have to. (But he would have had fun.) Can’t wait to see what hat makes “the cut” to be in your wedding!

    Ellen: You look fabulous in hats! I look forward to seeing your most recent purchases. Don’t worry, Peter won’t mind. (Especially if he doesn’t know!)

  4. Love these! My grandmother always wore a hat – to church every Sunday and every important event. My sister and I loved playing “dress up” at her house because of her amazing collection. All the children and grandchildren received a favorite hat when she passed away. I need to start wearing them… They’re fun, and they remind me of her!

  5. This was an absolutely perfect gathering. I’m so glad to hear that it is going to be an annual event. You don’t have to be a hat lover to come & have fun, but it is a hat lover’s paradise. I bought my 4th Patricia Frankum hat–each one is completely unique. Since this latest purchase goes with black, I won’t have to wait 4 years for a dress.

  6. Lauren: You would look so cute in hats! My grandmother always wore them, too. That was in the day when Catholic women had to wear them in church. She looked so stylish in them and had such fun buying them. I remember going hat shopping with her in Rome, Georgia. Great, great memories.

    Gay: Good point about buying a hat that goes with black! Can’t wait to see you wearing the new one.

  7. Every detail was special – from the millinery creations to the marzipan chapeaus, the delicate ladies luncheon fare by Rex Jones to the fabulous floral centerpieces from all the noteworthy Knoxville designers! The event was an eye opener. The size of the audience lent an exclusive, intimate feel to the experience. Aside from raising funds, the event provided the opportunity to see KBGA in a beautiful season! Pandy Anderson, Dinny Rieger and I took the opportunity to walk through The Martha Ashe Garden – wow – it is stunning this time of year! The grounds are really looking great!

    It inspired me to get busy to ready Heron’s Nest for the next In Bloom event.

  8. I remember wearing hats AND gloves to church. They were worn to U T football games, also, as well as fur stoles. Ya’ll are too young to remember those days.!

    I look forward to Hats Galore 2014. Thanks, Jackie!

  9. Mimi: I agree with you about every facet of the event being wonderful. Looking forward to the rest of the “In Bloom” events.

    Fran: I do remember the gloves my grandmother wore to church, too! Very elegant. And, even though we lived in Georgia, she had a mink stole.

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