Annual Twilight Garden party raises funds for garden

Daily Sundial

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About 400 guests attended the 5th annual Twilight Garden Party Aug. 27 to raise funds for the CSUN’s Botanical Garden.

The Botanical Garden and College of Extended Learning staff started the fundraiser in 2001 to purchase products to beautify the garden for the community and to promote its use as a tool for students.

The Botanical Garden staff had full responsibility to organize the fundraiser.

The goal of this year’s fundraiser is to acquire more than $5,000 to purchase a rotary engraver, said Brian Houck, instructional support technician and staff member at the garden.

He said the engraver would allow them to label each plant in the garden to help the students identify the different types of plant.

Last year’s fundraiser cost about $12,000 to promote and to hold, but it yielded a profit of about $4,000, Houck said.

“We are hoping for the same this year,” Houck said.

Upon entry, guests were given a complimentary wine glass to sample chardonnay, merlot, cabernet, and other varieties of wine from nine local wineries.

Guests also viewed various pieces of artwork from six artists.

Tables and chairs were set up for guests within the garden and near the pond to relax and to enjoy appetizers from the buffets.

A steel drum band was the selected choice of entertainment for the event.

A variety of merchandise was donated for the silent auction, such as a case of wine, several planters, and artwork were available for purchase. The proceeds from the silent auction will be going toward maintenance and improvement of the garden.

Carol Gorin, a member of the Botanical Artist Guild of Southern California donated a few of her pieces for the auction.

She also had a booth at the event to sell some of her prized reproductions.

Gorin said that the first work of art she submitted was a drawing of a celery root, and it received an honorable mention.

“I was quite thrilled to get an award at my first show at the New York Horticultural Society,” she said

Gorin has been an artist all her life. She stopped teaching art class when familial duties took over her list of priorities.

She found the inspiration to start drawing again when she came across a watercolor painting of a cantaloupe in the newspaper a few years ago.

She uses life specimens and magnified glasses with colored pencil and graphite to construct her detailed botanical artwork.

“It is very time consuming and tedious, “Gorin said. “It takes me around 100 hours to complete an 18 by 20 drawing. My husband keeps the originals under lock and key while we sell the reproductions for around $30.”

While the botanical garden gives artists like Gorin the inspiration to draw, others have a different connection to the garden.

David Miller, a guest at the fundraiser and a professor in the Chemistry Department, met his wife 23 years ago on campus when she was working in the greenhouse.

Miller married his wife in the garden, which was one of two ceremonies he is aware of that has occurred in the garden.

“(The garden) has always been a place to get away from the classroom,” Miller said. “I feel really connected to this place and I recommend a walk through on a cool day; it does wonders.”

Once a week, between 40 and 50 people volunteer to maintain the garden.

“Without the volunteers who come in once a week, the garden would really be a mess,” Houch said.

Most of the volunteers are retired and simply enjoy gardening.

Geetha Thomas, who works at University Advancement in University Hall, and her husband George are members of the Garden Club, and they participated in the fundraiser by working at the raffle.

“I really missed gardening,” said George Thomas. “We just moved from Ohio six months ago and have been volunteering at CSUN’s botanical garden for five months.”

Michael Sullivan can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu