American Idol finalist Janelle Arthur with Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam at the First Lady’s Luncheon. Arthur sang the hymn, “The Garden,” prior to lunch.
When Tennessee’s First Lady, Crissy Haslam, throws a garden party, it’s a doozy! Earlier this month, more than 800 folks attended the First Lady’s Luncheon, an entertaining outdoor fundraiser for the Tennessee Residence Foundation.
This not-for-profit foundation was established to raise and spend funds for the renovation, restoration, reconstruction, expansion and upkeep of the Tennessee Residence where nine Tennessee governors, from Gordon Browning to Bill Haslam, have lived.
The latest project, created with the sponsorship of Knoxville’s Scripps Networks Interactive, is a working kitchen and cutting garden that can be tended by area school children and harvested to help the First Family feed guests of the state of Tennessee. The luncheon was billed as “garden to table,” and featured a menu donated and prepared by Gaylord Opryland for the festive occasion.
Knoxville was well-represented at the affair. Guests included a table of Scripps Networks officials and the keynote speaker, Chris Lambton, the host of HGTV’s “Going Yard” program, who sat with his wife, Peyton, at the Governor and First Lady’s table. The governor’s step-mother, Natalie Haslam, and sister, Ann Bailey, also were on hand with a big group of Knoxville friends.
From left, Kathleen Finch, president of Scripps Networks Interactive’s home category; Chris Lambton of HGTV with his wife, Peyton; Gov. Bill Haslam; First Lady Crissy Haslam and Ken Lowe, Scripps chairman, president and CEO
Fun Knoxville group, from left: Anne Sprouse, Ann Furrow, Juanne Thompson, Aggie Bell, Natalie Haslam, Ilene Cheek, Ann Bailey, Barbara Arant, Sharon Pryse and Margaret Dye
The First Couple greets Natalie Haslam at a reception prior to the luncheon.
From left, Cindy McConkey, who heads Corporate Communications for Scripps; Kathleen Finch; Peyton and Chris Lambton. Chris and Peyton are stars of HGTV’s “Going Yard.”
The First Couple flank the TV stars during the reception.
Ken Lowe and Crissy Haslam
Tina Knight of Scripps Networks Interactive shows off the Garden Guide she was in charge of producing. Targeted at children, it describes the new garden at the Tennessee Residence.
Sherri Lee, left, and Sharon Pryse, right, flank Ann Bailey during the reception. Ann is the governor’s sister.
Former state Senator Jamie Woodson, left, with Janet McGaha, the Governor’s assistant.
Rita Roth, left, with Joanne Hazelwood
From left, former Knoxvillian Carolyn Pearre, Jamie Woodson and Molly Sears
Knoxville gals Aggie Bell, left, and Michelle Hardin
Let’s look at that garden!
In his remarks, Chris Lambton said the new garden, which was only planted in March of this year, is an addition to a landscape that had fallen into disrepair. Lambton, who said he has been gardening since he was seven years old, noted, “Anyone who has ever gardened knows that if you turn your back for even a second, nature will take over!”
The new garden, he said, will feature only local plants. This is important because local plants take less water and less care, he said. He added that the new garden will be “a living, breathing textbook” for school children who will help tend it. “We want to inspire the next generation to love gardening and be sustainable,” Lambton said.
Only the fall vegetables have been planted.
Like this kale (I think!).
And Swiss chard.
Signs denote which class is in charge of each bed.
A silent auction featured Tennessee products — like this basket from Nashville’s famous Loveless Cafe.
The city of Memphis provided a basket.
I think I startled Jane Martin in the middle of raising her bid!
This photo of the Tennessee Residence was signed by all five living Tennessee governors.
More than 800 folks were there.
Landscape architect Ben Page, who is in charge of the renovation of the property surrounding the Tennessee Residence, sat at the First Couple’s table along with children’s author Sandra Boynton.
I thought former Governor Winfield Dunn and his wife, Betty, looked great. They sat with the Haslams, too.
Former First Lady Honey Alexander, left, was with her friend Charlotte Parish.
I spotted my friend Leigh Hendry, left, with Lois Riggins-Ezzell. Leigh, who handled PR for the 1982 World’s Fair, lives in Nashville now with her husband, Bo Roberts. (Remember that name?)
Each centerpiece was different, but they all were stunning. And they were for sale.
And another. Each centerpiece featured plants that will be grown in the new garden.
Just look at this beautiful salad! Artisan greens adorned with local pickled okra, fire roasted grape tomatoes, charred corn, crumbled blue cheese, green goddess boiled dressing and crispy black-eyed peas! (They had me at okra!)
Main course was chicken stuffed with Noble Farms goat cheese served with Muddy Pond Sorghum sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, rainbow chard and Arrington Vineyard viognier apricot scallion sauce.
Check out the dessert: pumpkin brulee with pecan Florentine and cinnamon cream. Wow.
Ken Lowe and Kathleen Finch headed up the Scripps table.
From left, Kathleen Finch, Cynthia Madson and Tim Chandler at the Scripps table.
Also at the Scripps table, from left, Sarah Trahern, Vikki Neil and Jillian St. Charles
I spotted Mary Beth West and Jackie Cavnar at another table.
Everyone got to take home some coneflower seeds and some gardening gloves courtesy of Scripps Networks!
Janet McGaha got one of those fabulous centerpieces!
Someone sure was having fun!
As I was leaving, I saw this beautiful pond.
Janelle Arthur appreciated the pond, as well!