04 Oct Magical Mr. McGregor’s Secret Garden Party
Written by: Laura Nell Burton
Photography by: Jessica Giesey
Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
All children who believe in magic
Are invited to a treasure hunt
On The Argyle lawn
On the seventeenth of September
When the clock strikes six o’clock
Wonderful prizes await
One lucky child will discover
The Golden Key
That child will
Unlock Jackie’s Playhouse
For future generations
And begin the next chapter of this fairytale……announced the magical invitation! Who discovered the Golden Key, you ask? We’re going to tell you all about it, though with a bit of a heavy heart, because this Love Letter is ~THE END~ of our series chronicling Cloche’s work on Jackie’s Playhouse.
Today’s final chapter features highlights from the magical ribbon cutting (visit our newest gallery here for all photos). But before we give away the ending, I’ll share a beginning— one I haven’t previously explained. One thing central to Cloche’s business model is our ability to hone in on sentimentality in all that we do. Allow me to exemplify…
Of all the Beatrix Potter books that my mother read to me as a little girl, I had two favorites, “The Tale of Two Bad Mice” (starring Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb who ransack a doll’s house) and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” (starring a naughty bunny who sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden to eat his radishes). Both of my childhood copies still grace my book collection today).
For me, bunnies (including Peter) conjure thoughts of Easter—and the greatest Easters of my childhood took place on The Argyle lawn, with Jackie’s Playhouse (a gem not unlike the Victorian doll’s house in “The Tale of Two Bad Mice”) at the heart of it all. So, when Cloche began reimagining Jackie’s Playhouse, we sentimentally started with Beatrix Potter. Three ideas became the heart of all other design decisions. First, we sourced the perfect wallpaper featuring bunnies. Second, we framed every page of “The Tale of Two Bad Mice” to grace the living room. Third, we commissioned a hand-forged metal sculpture symbolic of Mr. McGregor’s scarecrow to watch over the new garden. For in-depth remodel #details, don’t miss our Love Letter: “Ode to Jackie’s Playhouse Artisans.”
So, when we began planning the ribbon cutting, “Mr. McGregor’s Secret Garden Party” was the perfect theme, benefiting The Generations Fund at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (learn more about the connection between The Argyle and biomedical research here).
Cloche volunteered 100% of our time and talents and we are overjoyed to have raised more than $180,000 for construction and the ribbon cutting celebration, with all remaining funds being donated to Texas Biomedical Research Institute!
After creating this Pinterest board to gather our creative thoughts, we asked Gina Langford, Town & Country magazine acclaimed watercolor artist to paint a Beatrix Potter-inspired rendition of Jackie’s Playhouse. From there, our paper suite was born, designed by the amazing Holly Hollon of Dixie Design (styled and photographed by talented Robin Verrier of Verry Robin & Co.).
A tiny treasure map inside a golden envelope was affixed to the inside cover of the invitation. The same words that began this Love Letter appeared on the front side of the map, beckoning children to the treasure hunt on The Argyle lawn.
The event program (which doubled as a handheld fan) was designed to mimic the shape of the famous ‘Classic Argyle Dessert Paddle.’
Over 500 guests were greeted by a strolling saxophone player, mint juleps, cotton candied champagne and savory hand-passed hors d’ oeuvres.
Everyone meandered towards Jackie’s Playhouse where flowers and greenery adorned the breathtaking cake trellis in the center of the lawn.
We’re truly obsessed with the deliciousness of Cakes by Cathy Young! Months in advance of the party, Cloche commissioned a pastry artisan (we searched high and low for the perfect match for our project, and ultimately found her in Australia) to create the darling Beatrix Potter fondant figures for Cathy’s cake!
A palette of pink and green set a lovely tone for party guests. Floral arrangements incorporated fresh produce in keeping with our theme.
Favors were vintage-style Beatrix Potter books (underwritten by our Favors Sponsor, Belles & Beaux) sweetly tied with pink satin ribbons and golden key charms.
In the new playhouse garden, four live bunnies hoppily waited to go home with golden egg treasure hunt winners…
Children listened to Beatrix Potter stories read by Miss Anastasia indulging (yes, before dinner!) in cookies (hands down the most beautiful AND delicious in San Antonio), cake pops (sourced from a pastry artisan we found in Seattle) and fresh, pink cotton candy spun by The Argyle.
Children frolicked on The Argyle grounds carrying white parasols…it truly couldn’t have been any dreamier!
Everyone enjoyed meeting celebrity Peter Rabbit!
In addition to Cloche’s involvement, my husband, Trace, and I co-chaired the event with our very dear friends, Emmy and Brian Ballantyne. We opened up the ribbon cutting ceremony with gratitude for everyone involved including Jackie’s Playhouse Artisans and beloved David and Amelita Mauzé, our honorary event chairs. The Argyle will be forever grateful to the Mauzé Construction team for donating their time, energy and extraordinary talents at the helm of Jackie’s Playhouse remodel.
Corbett Christie, Vice President of Advancement & Public Relations at Texas Biomedical Research Institute spoke on The Generations Fund. By the way, he wrote Cloche the most wonderful thank you note following the event, check it out here along with a few others we’ve recently received!
Next, I invited the children to quietly sit down inside the ribboned-off space in front of Jackie’s Playhouse, with their bunny bags in hand ready to hunt for treasures. I spoke to them about how bringing Jackie’s Playhouse back to its former glory was a big dream of mine and that, despite setbacks, I never gave up. I encouraged them to believe in their own big dreams, and to never ever stop believing in magic! They were all wonderful listeners…
Next Haley Scarnato, “American Idol” finalist performed “Hallelujah” from the movie “Sing” as the invocation. She was an inspiring showstopper, accompanied by Mango Moon String Quartet directed by Gerald Schoelzel.
I then presented my precious friend Jackie Beretta with engraved golden scissors. She made a few perfect remarks about how special her playhouse was when she was a little girl (read the history behind Jackie’s Playhouse at The Argyle here). She invited her family to join her as the children on the lawn eagerly awaited her ribbon cutting. The ribbon was a beautiful live floral garland!
Once Jackie and her family cut the ribbon, the treasure hunt had officially begun and the children went wild!
Master Mac Berridge found the Golden Key and received a handsome pair of heirloom cufflinks from our Grand Prize Sponsor, Kelly Wade Jewelers (she had a golden key necklace at the ready if the winner had been a little lady, and was so very generous to auction it off the following week with all proceeds benefiting Texas Biomedical Research Institute)!
All four golden eggs were discovered giving Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton Tail and Peter new homes!
Finally, Leland Stone, our Golden Key Sponsor, helped Master Mac unlock the door.
Following a stampede of little feet (Heaven helped me because I felt like having a heart attack!!!!) through the Playhouse, I announced that “Sunday Supper” was served (fried chicken, mashed potatoes and the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever eaten in my entire life). Master Chef Serge Devesa and his team completely outdid themselves with the most insanely beautiful buffets one could possibly dream of. The details will evermore take my breath away (P.S. thank you from the bottom of my heart, Jessica Giesey, for your gorgeous photography).
Most importantly, before I retreat into Post-Event Depression, none of this magic would’ve been possible without the incredible generosity of two families. To Jackie, when you donated your playhouse—your childhood sanctuary— to The Argyle grounds, you planted a magical seed in my heart that has bloomed into this beautiful story, some four decades later. I am foremost and forever grateful for you. And, to the Donnell family, my sweet cousins, I asked, and with generous hearts you said, “yes!” From the fullness of your humble generosity, the Donnell relatives, future generations of The Argyle and Texas Biomedical Research Institute will forever be blessed by your love.
“Blessed are those who see
beautiful things in humble places
where others see nothing.”
— Camille Pissarro
With an ever grateful heart,