HughE Dillon: Oprah Coming to Philly?

Plus PHS's Azalea Garden party, and Jennifer Weiner signs books

More than 500 guests attended the Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS) May 5th Cinco de Mayo-themed Azalea Garden party behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the promenade of the Waterworks. $50,000-plus was raised to help maintain the Azalea Garden for the upcoming year. The four-acre garden is home to one of the most impressive collections of azaleas and rhododendrons in the region. The flowers were blooming in pinks, whites and lilacs—mirroring some of the outfits the garden party guests wore. (Many women also donned hats.) 
There was lively mariachi music, Mexican-influenced cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to enjoy. The weather was beautiful.
This year there were plenty of kids’ activities too, including face painting (my favorite), balloon animals and carriage rides through the Azalea Garden.

I love photographing Jane G. Pepper; she just epitomizes class, style and knowledge about all things, especially green. At the end of this month Jane will retire; the new PHS president will be Drew Becher, formerly the executive director of New York Restoration Project, who spearheaded New York City’s renowned Million Trees NYC greening initiative. Becher has big shoes to fill as Pepper, who has been the PHS leader since 1981, raised the stature of the Flower Show and guided Philadelphia Green to a national model for urban revitalization. I met him, and I think he will certainly bring many more fresh ideas to promote the greening of Philadelphia. Below: event co-chairs Mark and Liz Ward, Mark A. Focht (Fairmount Park Commission executive director), PHS president-elect Drew Becher, and current president Jane Pepper.

Among those in attendance were Anne Hamilton, Martha Cyfers, Stacey Dutton, Charles McMahon, Susie Saunders, Ellen Wheeler, and J. Blaine Bonham Jr. (PHS executive vice president). Bonham, who is retiring June 30th, plans to do 90 days of nothing before his next move in life. Lucky guy. Below: Patty Hicks and daughter Grace.

Jennifer Weiner
appeared at the Reading Terminal Market for a book signing party on May 4th for her Best Friends Forever, which is coming out in paperback.

Maybe Oprah will visit Philly after all!
Yesterday Stedman Graham gave a speech on the importance of education at the Philadelphia Club. Stedman also mentioned he has a new book coming out called Identity—A Passport to Freedom that covers nine steps to success that he says can show teachers how to help kids become the best they can be. He’s doing a documentary here in Philadelphia on the subject that will air on PBS. Filming begins in a few weeks.

Before settling on Fox & Hound as the mid-point party for The Dark Fields production, Bradley Cooper checked out McGillin’s Olde Ale House on Drury Street. McGillin’s is celebrating its 150-year anniversary with a “Creative Black Tie Beef & Beer Dinner” on June 6th. The event is almost sold out.

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