Friday, October 30, 2020
Sawtooth Botanical Garden Hosts Some Enchanted Evening
Lisa Holley and Trudi Schneider check out the food, wine and auction items at the Garden of Infinite Compassion.
Sunday, September 6, 2020


Brittney Aldrich and Bill Burnett savored their wine as they enjoyed one another’s company at a small table set up against the backdrop of big bushy clumps of lavender at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

“We haven’t gotten to do anything all summer because of COVID. We’ve been busy with work with all the people in town and there hasn’t been a lot going on. So, this is first date night,” said Aldrich.

This week’s Botanical Garden’s Walk and Wine was a chance for numerous people to take their first stab at getting out and mingling from a distance.

Brittney Aldrich and Bill Burnett enjoyed what they called their first real night out since the COVID pandemic began.

Patrons had four hours in which they could stroll from one station to another set up through the garden. They nibbled on chipotle chicken cups with cilantro avocado crème, beef tenderloin crostini, truffle grapes, salmon pinwheels, candied bacon and other hors ‘d’oeuvres prepared by Ellen Reiss.

And they sampled an array of fine wines curated by Bob Gerschen, including a Kenefick Ranch Sauvignon from Napa Valley in which the wild gooseberries were purported to “jump out of the glass,” a French wine named Chauteau Maucoil and a Tuscan Casanova di Neri Irrosso bursting with red cherry, tar and loaming earth.

The Walk and Wine—the garden’s socially distanced answer to its annual Gimlets in the Garden fundraiser—will be followed by a similar event in October, in which a variety of signature cocktails will be featured.

“We wanted this to be relaxing and spaced out so people could see the garden,” said the garden’s executive director Jen Smith. “People are so happy to have something to do that’s safe and fun. And the garden is so nice into October.”

“The garden is a very cool place to sit and look at the mountains and the flowers and contemplate life,” said Bob Law, kicking back with his wife Debby.

Debby and Bob Law found the event very relaxing compared with many social events where the sheer number of people who show up can make them a little frenetic.

“I enjoy coming here to practice what I learn in the Sun Valley Photography Club’s workshops,” said Bob Law. “Flowers are very photogenic and it’s a good place to try out flashes and light techniques that enhance photos.”

Kelly Odell treasures the garden for different reasons.

“It’s a very unique opportunity for wellness and vitality and healing,” she said. “And it’s a huge educational piece for a community that thinks you can’t grow anything at this altitude because it shows you can grow more than five plants here.”

Kim and Andrew Castellano found the event so fun they strolled around twice.

Those in attendance could bid on or purchase art ranging from Lisa Holley’s five-foot painting bursting with colorful flowers to an opportunity to have stone artist Gabe Embler’s construct a Fibonacci Gate using 230 pieces of quartzite from Oakley.

In between bites and sips that is.

“I put my mask up and then I try to eat or drink something and I smack it up against my mask,” said Stacey Ware, who said she and Sawtooth Mountain Guides had been “ridiculously busy” catering to guests on rock climbing and backpacking trips at such places as Mt. Borah, City of the Rocks and around Sun Valley.

The sight of Mark Odell’s Italian bike racer’s jersey prompted Jolyon Sawrey to talk about his four-year career as a bike racer.

Stacey Ware listens as Mark Odell talks about his Italian bike racer sweater.

And Kim and Andrew Castellano related how they’d spent the early portion of the COVID pandemic in Hawaii sheltered from what was happening on the mainland.

“Then we came back here just as things started heating up there,” said Kim, who had just seen her child off to school at Sun Valley Community School.

Apparently, the evening agreed with the Castellanos. They reached the sixth station on the Walk and Wine and then headed back towards the first.

“We’re going around again!” said Kim



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