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by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

If you read this blog often, you’ve probably heard me gush about the Garden’s incredible volunteers — all 550+ of them.    This week, I’ve gotten to see a whole new side of the volunteer picture at Lewis Ginter, as I’ve watched a very dedicated group of Splendor Under Glass volunteers transform the Garden’s  Conservatory and the field adjacent to it into an orchid forest, with hundreds of orchid plants and thousands of blooms, creating a ballroom fit for a princess.  Splendor Under Glass,  our annual black-tie fundraiser, takes place in the Conservatory tomorrow night (November 19). The sold-out event overlooks the holiday lights and is a preview of the popular Dominion GardenFest of Lights display that opens to the public the following Friday, November 26.

Helen Pinckney and Bocky Talbott crafting orchid arrangements.

Helen Pinckney and Bocky Talbott crafting orchid arrangements.

One of the orchid sculpture arrangements that will be available for auction at Splendor Under Glass.

One of the orchid sculpture arrangements that will be available for auction at Splendor Under Glass.

Peggy Guy & Douglas Martin prepping candle-holders for the tables.

Peggy Guy & Douglas Martin prepping candle-holders for the tables.

Talking to the volunteers, what I learned is that many of them have been volunteering together at this event for years.  In fact, I could tell as they collaborated on projects that teamwork is the key to how they accomplish so much in such a short period of time.

This year’s Splendor Under Glass theme “Orchids Around the World” transports guests to an enchanting Orchid Cloud Forest and includes cocktail buffet, live music, dancing, and live and silent auctions of orchids, trips, artwork and more. A new feature of this year’s live auction is the opportunity for guests to “bid” on a donation to the Garden’s education programs, specifically those targeted toward under-served and at-risk children and youth.  All proceeds from Splendor Under Glass will go toward supporting the non-profit Garden’s mission focused on public education and community enrichment.

Sharon Carter (on ladder) Sue Thompson, Kathy Watson & Abbie Wharton creating a wall of the orchid forest

Sharon Carter (on ladder) Sue Thompson, Kathy Watson & Abbie Wharton creating a wall of the orchid forest

Splendor Under Glass co-chair Martha Sherman explains the Gala is about serving the community. “The funds raised will help us educate children about the many ways we depend on plants — for food, shelter, clothing and more.”  The Garden currently serves approximately 42,000 children annually through school-related and other activities.

Talking to the volunteers from the gala’s decorating committee,  I could see how much the Garden means to them.   I tried to capture some of the best moments on film below — but I can’t wait to see what it looks like when all the work is done and the big November night sky goes dark and the magic of Splendor Under Glass comes to life with music, dance, orchid forests and bidding on fabulous orchid arrangements all for a great cause.

Splendor Under Glass co-chair Peyton Wells in the greenhouse.

Splendor Under Glass co-chair Peyton Wells in the greenhouse.

Former board member Susan Armstrong and volunteer Rene Henderson prepare handmade bamboo chandeliers for the gala.

Former board member Susan Armstrong and volunteer Rene Henderson prepare handmade bamboo chandeliers for the gala.

If you are one of the lucky 400 who already has tickets to this sold out event you are in for a treat! While you are here enjoying the amazing beauty that the volunteer team has created, make sure you find a Splendor Under Glass decorating committee member and thank them for their dedication and all their hard work. And if you are lucky enough to place the winning bid on a one-of-a-kind orchid arrangement and sculpture, I hope it brings you great joy to know that as you are enjoying it, you are allowing us to to share the Garden with those who otherwise might not get to enjoy it.

Former co-chairs of  Splendor Under Glass, Carolyn Snow & Douglas Martin, continue to enjoy working together as a team, year after year

Former co-chairs of Splendor Under Glass, Carolyn Snow & Douglas Martin, continue to enjoy working together as a team, year after year

Abbie Wharton & Peyton Wells fetching more orchids from the greenhouse for the floral design team.

Abbie Wharton & Peyton Wells fetching more orchids from the greenhouse for the floral design team.

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