A Celebration of “Meadows” at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve Gala 2015


The Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Gala was started 12 years ago  as a fundraiser for the preserve.  It was the brainchild of Naudain Sellers, Millena Coffey, and Sandy Ryon. These three ladies came up with the idea to raise money to benefit the preserve and its educational programs. What started as really small gathering has eventually became the biggest party in Bucks County.  The gala takes place on the last weekend in April in order to coincide  with at the height of the Spring ephemeral wildflower bloom at the Wildflower preserve.  Executive Director Miles Arnott  describes the unique beauty of this time of the year:  “There are Virginia bluebell, and bloodroot and twinleaf and trilliums and this plethora of wildflowers carpeting the forest floor here during that time.”

Muckboots and Black Tie collage

The theme of this year’s gala is “Meadows!” and the pollinators who depend on them.  Miles Arnott explains, “We’re really trying to raise awareness, certainly among the gala attendees and the general public about the benefit of meadows and open spaces and the plight of our pollinators, some of which are really being imperiled for a number of reasons: everything from pesticide use to herbicide use to habitat loss.”

Ultimately the message is extremely positive as the programs focus on informing people how to make a difference on a personal scale.  Dr. Arnott shares that  “the Wildflower Preserve encourages people to plant a little bit of Bowman’s Hill in their own back yards.  We have plants for sale here at the preserve, of course.  If they take a little bit of Bowman’s Hill with them and plant them in their yard then those plants can provide ecosystem services for the critters who depend on them: for the birds and the butterflies.”

It is characteristic of our local community (including Bucks, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties) that something wild would become such a focus of culture and art.  The gala has attracted such notable local artists such as Chef Max Hansen and Rusty Thomas of Rusty Thomas Designs who have collaborated together on this event for more than eight years. Inspired by the wild beauty and bountiful resources of our river valley, Max and Rusty continue to redefine Bucks County style and hospitality.

Event designer Rusty Thomas recounts, “We started “theming out” the gala  four years ago. The first was the pond theme. The Wildflower Preserve  wanted to raise money to build a pond which is there now. The second year was “Birds”, then it was “Butterflies” then last year it was “Trees” and this year it will be “Meadows”. Each one of these fundraising efforts goes to restoring some part of the Preserve.”

Bowmans Style Collage

On how the wild themes have inspired his design Rusty Thomas recalls, “Before we started ‘theming’ the party I noticed when I was driving by the Preserve that a tree had fallen down, a very large oak, probably 200 years old.  I thought the canopy could provide me with inexpensive decor.  So I lined the tent all around the perimeter with tree branches and hung a thousand candles off of it!  One year we came up with the idea to do the tree theme again with branches. The arrangements were 10 feet tall around the center poles.  Then we draped the poles–it was a naturalistic theme. It was an inexpensive way to get maximum impact.”

For Chef Max Hansen the Wildflower preserve has been a part of his whole life. Max recalls, “The Wildflower preserve itself is supremely a part of Bucks County. It’s a place that my grandmother and grandfather, Bertha and Marshall Cole, took me to for the first time when I was 6 years old.  My grandparents were volunteers and were a part of the preserve since the 60s. Executive Director,  Miles Arnott, is an amazing steward not just of the Wildflower Preserve but of preservation in Bucks County. He is supported by the most dedicated volunteer organization I have seen. Many of these individuals have made the Wildflower Preserve their life’s work.”
Bowman's collage MHC_1024
Rusty Thomas relies on the help of the many volunteers explaining, “ Hands down the best volunteers I’ve ever worked are from Bowman’s because they’re gardeners and they are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Without them this party could not be pulled off.” Executive Director Miles Arnott agrees that “volunteers are the lifeblood of the event, for sure. It’s really a fantastic phenomenon!  With Max’s help and with Rusty’s help and with the help of the volunteers we like to say it’s the best party in Bucks County! It really has become a very special event.”

Put on your “black tie and muck boots” and join us for an elegant evening of magic in the meadow at the Preserve. Join us on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 5-10 p.m for this year’s Spring Garden Gala event. Cocktails begin at 5 PM  followed by Hors d’oeuvres,  and a Silent Auction There will be Nature Photographs for sale along with Garden Ornaments, Plants and Shrubs. Put those “muck boots”  to use by taking a trolley ride up to the visitor center to go on a guided or self guided wildflower walk. This is a spectacular time of year to stroll through the Preserve and enjoy our native plants!

At 7 PM there will be a dinner Catered by Max Hansen followed by a  Live Auction.  Finally we will enjoy some dessert and dancing. There will be a silent auction that closes at 8:45PM.



Bowman’s Green Meadow Salad

Hand-selected Baby Spinach, Dandelion Greens, and Baby Arugula with shaved Raw Asparagus, Dill, Parsley and Chives

Family style additions: Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese, Green Meadow Vinaigrette, Toasted Sunflower Seeds, Marinated and Grilled Artichokes, Artisan Breads, Crispy Sesame and Sumac Lavash Crisps, Herbed Butter


Main Course

Choice of:

Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction,

Hickory Smoked Salmon Filet with Bearnaise Sauce,

“Pastaless” Vegan Butternut Squash Raviolis

Entrees served with Spinach-Mushroom Duxelle – Pan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes – Fiddlehead Ferns – Garlic Scapes – Maitake Mushrooms – Cremini Mushrooms


Dessert and Coffee Station

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Salted Caramel Whiskey and Butterscotch Pudding, Lemon Curd Tartlets – Fresh Raspberries – Chambord Raspberry Coulis

Special thanks to the following for providing fantastic images:
Photo Credits:

Jess Graves Photography–  1)in the first collage, larger photo on right of man and woman in muck boots and clogs, 2) second collage , top center with white table in foreground and backlit guests arriving.

Kevin York Photography – in the second collage the large panoramic shot on the bottom left.

PrimalTweet– meadows shot in the video,  in the third collage, the Max Hansen Caterer van, and above it the field and blue sky.

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