In their 25-year marriage, David and Sarah Kowitz have lived in Hong Kong, London and New York and gathered friends along the way like flowers in a bouquet.
Those of us who are the perennial friends were invited to their lovely home in Hastings, East Sussex, for a weekend to celebrate their silver milestone. What a treat it was.
Sarah, you see, is a master gardener and their stately home, Fairlight Hall, has been turned into a cultural mecca for art, classical music and gardens. She has returned meadows to original grasses and wildflowers, made the vegetable gardens organic, and opened up the pleasure gardens. Sarah is a goddess of the garden, someone who knows the science of growing things and then can chuckle over its unpredictability. Flower Power with Jill wouldn’t exist if not for what she taught me.
When you are younger, you don’t contemplate how friendships intersect over life events, especially when you’re raising your children together. I have an image of Sarah shaking her head graciously when I wanted an explanation why flowers didn’t bloom at the same time all summer. “Stagger what you grow and learn about each flower,” she wisely advised.
Her generosity and exquisite taste were on display at this epic event, which took place when English gardens are at their peak, in June. The hall was decorated with dreamy wands of delphiniums in a palette of deep purple, pink, light blue, and lilac that were floating from the ceiling. Vases were filled to the brim with roses in the palest colors demurely demanding attention. I swooned, as did almost everyone, many of them claiming it was the most beautiful party of their lifetime.
Here are the deets.
She hired Albion Parties, a boutique London-based party and wedding planning company, specializing in creating exclusive events around the world. They hired Larry Walshe Floral Design and together they created the gathering.
“We tried to use the flowers from our garden here and what was in season,” Sarah says.
“The focal point of the arrangements, the four crafted golden trees, were inspired by the unique red chandelier hanging overhead in the hall,” says Albion’s Katie Crichton-Stuart.
Yes. The trees brought the outside in. Magical.
“They were shaped using contorted willow,” Crichton-Stuart says. “The branches meandered along the table.” Down the center of the tables were what appeared to be planted flower beds, another trompe l’oeil.
Because the anniversary party took place in late spring, Sarah and her gardeners could drape tables with sweet peas, calendula, diascia or twinspur, matricaria, which look like daisies. and dark blue delphiniums. They created vases of roses.
Another detail: Tables were named after the streets Sarah and David lived on throughout their marriage.
Trays of hors d’oeuvres were decorated with flowers. Just one blossom can create a surge of excitement – no matter what is served.
Sarah and her team chose to add a miniature pink pineapple onto each guest’s place setting, referring to the Fairlight Hall logo of a pineapple, a traditional expression of welcome, and a perfect touch for the party.
Even the dresses that her daughter, Maddie, and Sarah wore had floral blooms. “Maddie picked out the dress,” says Sarah. “But I chose the flowers.”
Albion Parties –
Larry Walshe Floral Design