35th Annual Dinner on the Desert

On April 24 a group of philanthropists, community leaders and Garden friends gathered safely for the 35th Annual Dinner on the Desert, Desert Botanical Garden’s major annual fundraiser. This evening was even more special since last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19 and the Garden’s temporary closure. The Garden exceeded its goal of $350,000 in contributions to support all areas of the Garden and offered guests several options to participate based on personal comfort levels, including its first-ever virtual auction.

“There was electricity in the air at Dinner on the Desert because for many of our guests this was the first time in a year that they had been in the company of close friends and associates. The weather was perfect, dinner was delicious, and the sense of relief at life returning to normal was palpable,” says Ken Schutz, the Garden’s executive director.

Those who selected the sold-out at reduced capacity on-site experience were treated with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and socializing while exploring the Garden’s temporary floral and plant installation by world-renowned floral designers, Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz of Waterlily Pond Studio. Afterward, guests enjoyed an exquisite al fresco dinner catered by Fabulous Food Fine Catering & Events that reflected the flavors of spring in the Garden’s magical outdoor setting. Attendees strolling the trails also enjoyed performances by He Said She Said, Louis Landon, Moxie, musicians of The Phoenix Symphony and violinist, Scott Jeffers of Traveler.

“Greeting our guests was exciting because they came to celebrate not only the Garden but to a place that they could share with friends, colleagues and family.  A committee with ideas, a staff with competence, vendors with talent, and volunteers with spirit all made the evening possible,” says Sara Morgan, event chair and Paradise Valley resident.

A group of Garden friends selected to dine at home, which included a home delivery option or Garden pick-up with a beautifully crafted and packaged four-course dinner “to go” that included two perfectly paired bottles of wine, a floral bouquet and a parting gift.

Funds raised from the event will directly benefit the Garden’s work to protect cactus, one of the most threatened groups of living organisms. The Garden is committed to advancing excellence in education, research, exhibition and conservation of desert plants of the world with emphasis on the Sonoran Desert.


Chair Sara Morgan, Dinner on the Desert 2021, and Ken Schutz, Garden’s executive director

Gena and Harry Bonsall

John Hamilton and Tammy McLeod, Desert Botanical Garden Board of Trustees president

Amy Flood, Desert Botanical Garden Board of Trustees president elect, and Larry West

Trustee Adriana and Nikcos Murrietta

Trustee Bruce and Kathy Weber

Sylvia McDowell and Trustee Diana Gregory

Trustee Robin and Stephen Woodworth

Waterlily Pond Studio Artists Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz


About Perrine Adams

Perrine Adams is the Managing Editor of The Red Book and Lifestyle Editor for Frontdoors Magazine.

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