The weather gods smiled upon the UT Gardens Gala, thank goodness, as several hundred supporters gathered to raise money and also raise a glass or two to Henry McIlwaine Jr., whose generosity will fund a new pavilion on the Neyland Drive property.
Henry McIlwaine surrounded by his daughters, from left, Gwen Johnson, Mary Kris McIlwaine and Katherine, who asked that her last name not be used. (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
“His generous donation will expand opportunities for community outreach and educational classes for years to come,” said Dr. Joe Johnson, UT’s president emeritus who, along with his wife, Pat, was honorary co-chair of the Friday evening event.
The theme this year, “A Symphony of Peonies,” was perfectly timed as the fluffy pink flowers were in full bloom for their special spotlight. The evening’s signature cocktail? Why a “Peonini,” of course!
From left, Linda and Culver Schmid with Hugh and Angelia Nystrom.
Ilene and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek.
Jane and Kenneth Creed strolling through the gardens during the cocktail hour.
Jackie Wilson, left, and Shirley Estes enjoying the evening.
Aren’t they beautiful?
Peonies are my favorite flower.
They bloom at the same time as my husband, Alan’s, favorite flower — the iris.
John Sorochan, left, associate professor and distinguished scientist in the UT Department of Plant Sciences, with Jeff Pappas, director of the UT School of Music.
From left, Sylvia and Jack Lacey, Fay and Willard Carr and Victoria Cape.
Even garbage cans can be beautiful.
The auction items are usually great at this event. I loved this pitcher from Portugal donated by Glass Bazaar.
And this vertical garden, donated by EarthTower Vertical Garden, is very clever.
This butterfly and bird bath was donated by Stanley’s Greenhouses. (I didn’t know butterflies had to take baths!)
UT President Joe DiPietro and his wife, Deb. (I loved her top!)
Alice Torbett and Charlie Brakebill.
Bill Pittman and Tina Rolen.
Chris and Jessica Lavan.
The food was prepared by culinary arts students of Pellissippi State Community College and the seniors of the UT Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management. These Greek zucchini pinwheels were delish.
The fried pork belly with maple molasses glaze was a hit, as well.
Here’s a beautiful Peonini!
When you see folks from The Pour Guys, you know you are at a good party!
Christy and Jeff Lee.
Jeff Chapman, center, with Mary Ann and Jan Simek.
Smoked salmon mousse in mini pastry cups.
Jim Cortese and Kathy Keller.
Knoxville Vice Mayor Duane and Marsha Grieve.
From left, Joe DiPietro, Pat Johnson and Mary Anne Beall. (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
The centerpieces on the dinner tables were stunning.
But the salads were absolute knockouts!
I even loved how the napkins were folded.
Natalie Haslam had on the perfect scarf for this evening.
Tom Boyd and Sandi Burdick.
Stuart Worden and Lane Hays.
Sue and Ron Hamilton. Sue is director of UT Gardens. (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
Margaret and Cliff Rodgers.
From left, Sarah Stowers, Bud Albers and Ginger Browning.
Mary Anne and Sam Beall.
Mary, left, and Jessica Mishou.
The evening’s auctioneer, Bear Stephenson, center, with Lisa Stearns and Norman Hammitt.
What an entree! Herb and shallot grilled filet of beef served with Shelton Farms smoked gouda polenta cake, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and a Monterey wild mushroom and heirloom tomato sauce.
Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake and a mascarpone and vanilla bean mousse.
Bill and Barbara Arant.
Andrea Cartwright and Alan Solomon.
James Newburn, left, assistant director of the UT Gardens, with Jimmy Brimer.
Pat and Joe Johnson were honorary co-chairs of the event. (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington. (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
Camille Smith, left, and Mariel Clark of HGTV had the best headgear for this event! (Photo by Hurley Co. Photography)
Everything looks divine!
Hey, Deborah: It was. The culinary students, in particular, did a fantastic job. And the gardens looked great.
Very Festive event! I was there on Sunday taking photos, James does such a wonderful job with the gardens! Always a visual pleasure! tru
Thanks Cynthia for sharing the beauty of the evening! I love that the culinary students get to shine at this great garden soirée. I so wanted to attend, but was it was the same weekend as the Dogwood Arts Festival on Market Sq. Just too many fabulous things to do in our great city in the springtime!!!!
Tinah: Agree 100 percent!
Hey, Vicki: I know! We often are torn between the many great events going on in our fantastic home town! And you are right about the culinary students. They really knocked it out of the park at this event — as they do at this event every year. It’s definitely one of the highlights. Look forward to seeing you soon.
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