Natalie Haslam, left, greets Barbara Dooley, wife of coach Vince Dooley.
Legendary University of Georgia football coach and athletic director, Vince Dooley — also the father of UT football coach Derek Dooley — is in town to visit the Knoxville Botanical Garden tonight and sign copies of his new book about gardening.
But last night, he was guest of honor at a $250-per-ticket fundraiser to benefit the Botanical Garden at the Sequoyah Hills home of Ann and Steve Bailey. This was appropriate because the Baileys recently have completed installation of a fabulous garden of their own. And the weather last night was perfect for a garden cocktail and dinner party.
Coach Dooley has said that gardens have certain similarities to football teams. “Gardens are never finished,” he said. “And neither are football teams.” In brief remarks after dinner, Dooley said when he started getting interested in gardens, “I didn’t know a grapefruit from a gardenia.” But he soon became obsessed with gardens and plants. “If I had gotten interested in gardens at the same time I got interested in coaching, I probably wouldn’t have become a coach,” he noted.
He joked that he might have taken his enthusiasm a little too far when he decided to surprise his wife, Barbara, on the couple’s 49th wedding anniversary by purchasing a large Japanese maple tree. “She went outside and started looking for gold and diamonds among the leaves,” he laughed.
Dooley drew applause when he promised that he would not let his son, Derek, to whom he referred as “Barbara’s little baby boy,” take up gardening. “I want him to stay focused on football,” he said.
If you hurry, you can probably get tickets to the event tonight. Tickets are $30 for members of the Botanical Garden and $40 for non-members. Click here for the phone number and more information. Our great client, Home Federal Bank, is the sponsor of this evening’s festivities.
The setting and the weather were perfect for an outdoor soiree.
Carlton Long, left, Vince Dooley and Natalie Haslam
From left, Barbara Dooley, Mary Lynn Majors, and Allison Dooley in the Baileys' garden
Former Knoxville mayor and U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe, left, chatting with Jim Haslam.
Host Steve Bailey, right, and Sid Blalock
Hostess Ann Bailey, left, and Barbara Dooley
Just a beautiful setting!
The pretty pool and pool house
The hot tub area featuring a huge Richard Jolley sculpture
A closer view of the sculpture
The outdoor fireplace also features artwork by Richard Jolley.
Dr. Alan Solomon, himself an avid gardener, is telling me about the reproductive habits of this holly bush. Coach Dooley spent yesterday afternoon visiting Solomon's garden.
Caesar Stair, left, Kim Trent and Ray Hand
From left, Lucy Hand, Ann Goldstine, Sarah Stowers and Kay Clayton
Tom Ford, left, with Natalie Haslam and Victor Ashe
Dr. Solomon and Anna Ford
Steve Seifried, executive director of the Knoxville Botanical Garden, left, with UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Alan Carmichael, right
Sam Beall, left, and Tom McAdams. (Everyone got a nice-sized hydrangea when they left. Since we live in a condo, Mr. McAdams agreed to adopt ours! He said we could visit it anytime.)
Sandy Beall and Caesar Stair
Frank and Kelly Nystrom and Jim Haslam, right
From left, Alan Solomon, Andrea Cartwright, Monroe Trout, Sandra Trout and Jackie Wilson
Yay! That is Jerry Kruse, owner of the bartending service The Pour Guys, pouring a glass of pinot grigio! Guests could chose between two white wines: pinot grigio and chardonnay. Very nice.
I liked this photo of Sarah Stowers.
It was dark when the party ended. Here are Steve and Amy Seifried on the way out.
My animal-loving husband and the Baileys' dog, Sport