1 Every spring, when my collection of herbaceous peonies is in bloom, I love to celebrate its splendor with a casual gathering of friends and colleagues. This year, the peonies looked beautiful.
2 The day began early with Chef Pierre Schaedelin from PS Tailored Events in the flower room kitchen preparing all the vegetables - true farm to table style. These asparagus stalks were snapped from my vegetable garden just minutes before Chef Pierre cut them. http://pstailoredevents.com
3 Beautiful green and purple asparagus stalks in different sizes - all from my garden. These were used whole and for soup. Asparagus is a very delicious and healthy vegetable. It's high in vitamin-K, folate and anti-inflammatory nutrients. It also contains vitamin-C, beta-carotene, and vitamin-E.
5 These fresh peas are for another delectable soup - the green is so vibrant. Do you know... one serving of peas has as much vitamin-C as two large apples, and more fiber than a slice of wholemeal bread?
6 There's nothing more healthy and delicious than fresh vegetables. Chef Pierre cuts all his vegetables and prepares all his ingredients first. He says, "mise en place is very important." This means the organization of all the ingredients - it is key to cooking and preparing any special meal.
7 Chef Pierre also prepared these potatoes for mashing - his mashed potatoes are always amazing!
8 The servery was beautifully set with cold refreshments, glasses, and mixed drinks.
9 I made this fresh peony arrangement for the party. Several cut flower displays were placed on various counters and tables.
10 Caipirinhas - Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaca, sugar and lime. Cachaca is distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. Also called aguardente, and caninha, it is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. The lime and water were placed in glasses, muddled and then each glass was filled with Cachaca and ice.
11 The weather was warm enough for dinner to be eaten outside on the terrace; however, beautiful peonies were also arranged and placed around my home. Isn't this beautiful?
12 Look at all the gorgeous peony blooms from the garden. These were placed in my entrance hall. Peonies hold a lot of tradition - they are the floral symbol of China, the state flower of Indiana and the 12th wedding anniversary bloom.
13 Heather Kirkland overseas all my special events and gatherings. Here she was with two from our merchandising team, Jackie Landaeta, Lisa Soman.
14 There are 11-rows of peonies, each containing two different varieties, which totals 22-different peony plants. The entire collection is a mix of beautiful shades of pink and white.
15 The peony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. The plants have compound, deeply lobed leaves and large, often fragrant blooms in late spring and early summer.
16 Peonies growth types are herbaceous or non woody, and tree or shrub. These flowers are herbaceous peonies. I love the bold pink color in this flower.
17 Some beautiful white peonies - don't they look as if they were made of crepe paper?
18 Peonies produce large clusters of flowers that are sometimes too heavy for the stems. to prevent them from flopping over, most peonies benefit from staking. I use twine attached to metal stakes to bolster the edges of each row.
19 The group enjoyed a stroll through the gardens before dinner.
20 I showed them my basket house where I store many of my new and antique baskets.
21 Patsy and I walked past the clematis pergola and the grove of bald cypress trees. The day was quite warm and humid, and there had been a big threat of rain and thunderstorms, but the evening turned out perfectly.
22 My housekeeper, Sanu, set three tables out on the terrace outside my kitchen.
23 Single herbaceous peony blooms and single tree peony blooms were placed in pretty cups for the tables.
24 Here is the view from the terrace looking out onto my horse paddocks - it was a wonderful setting for a special dinner.
25 Two simple buttercream yellow flower buckets filled with beautiful herbaceous dark pink and buttercream peonies.
26 A beautiful overhead view of a peony bloom on the table. Do you know... peonies are actually available in every color except blue?
27 Peonies in beautiful shades of yellow, cream and pink. Peonies like cold winters and do best in zones 3 through 8. Herbaceous peonies need at least 400-hours of temperatures below 40-degrees in order to flower in late spring.
28 My longtime housekeeper, Laura, always sets the most beautiful tables.
29 Most of the team drove in cars or rode on a bus. Here are Darcy Smith, Amanda Klecker, SVP Merchandising Janet Stein, Hosanna Houser, and Sonia Ramadhim.
30 This is Gabby Lewin.
31 This is Ellie Lee.
32 A couple of hours before this picture was taken, the skies were gray with clouds, but the storms just missed the farm. We definitely need the rain for all the thirsty gardens, but it was nice that it stayed dry for the gathering.
33 The upper terrace formal gardens looked wonderful with the boxwood and barberry.
34 A fun group photo was taken in the peony garden.
35 Here was my sweet dog, Francesca, looking down the Pin Oak Allee.
36 It was time for dinner - look at the fresh asparagus stalks adorned with allium tops. Such a beautiful farm to table plate.
37 As always, Chef Pierre served a wonderful meal! Look at all the fresh vegetables!
38 These P.E.I., or Prince Edward Island, mussels were absolutely delicious. Prince Edward Island is where these mussels came from - the ocean climate in this area is perfect for raising mussels, and has become one of the primary sources for fresh mussels in North America.
39 We had delicious pea and asparagus soups.
40 Heather served bowls of soup as Chef Pierre served the mussels.
41 Susan served soup from the other side of the counter.
42 Here are Ellie, Steffi Lynen, Tiffany Smalley, SVP Executive Editorial Director of Crafts/Holiday Hannah Milman, and Hosanna.
43 This was cote de boeuf. Also known as rib-eye on the bone because it is exactly that - a rib-eye steak with its rib bone still attached.
44 Look how juicy and perfectly cooked the cote de boeuf was - it did not take long to empty this plate.
45 A scrumptious rhubarb crumble. Chef Pierre served this with a homemade buttermilk sorbet.
46 Chef Pierre creates the most delicious meals at every event.
47 Here are Ellen Rogoz and Allie Donnelly.
48 Look at this plate of fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes. It was perfect.
49 This table seemed to be enjoying every bit of the meal - Lauren Murphy, Janet, Amanda, Allie, and Patsy.
50 Here are Chelsey Culmann and Kim James-Jammal.
51 My wonderful dog, Genghis Khan, looking alert for the camera.
52 Joining me at my table were Hosanna, Hannah, Ruth, Lisa, and Jackie.
53 At this table - Amanda, Allie, Ellen, Patsy, Steffi, Janet, Lauren, Sonia, and Darcy.
54 Here are Dan Vissic, Tiffany, Chelsey, Kim, Ellie, and Gabby.
56 I said a few words following dinner, and thanked everyone for all their hard work.
57 Before everyone went home, they made one more trip down to the stable to see the donkeys. Clive came to join them for this photo!
58 It was a beautiful evening for a party.