Flora Award Black-Tie Guests Celebrated The “Terrific Trio” At Texas Discovery Gardens With A Seated Dinner, Music And Clear Skies

The sky couldn’t have better on Thursday, October 26, for the black-tie guests to enjoy the Texas Discovery Gardens grounds before going indoors for the dinner celebrating the “terrific trio’s (Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith and Marilyn Waisanen) receiving the Flora Award . Here’s a report from the field:

Texas Discovery Gardens presented its prestigious annual Flora Award on Thursday, October 26, to Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith and Marilyn Waisanen, otherwise known as the ‘terrific trio’.

Marilyn Waisanen, Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith, Kathryn Febbroriello, Amelia Valz and Angela Shank*

Graced by $200,000 worth of deBoulle jewels, who designed the actual Flora Award, Kathryn Febbroriello, Angela Shank and Amelia Valz co-chaired the elegant evening for their second consecutive year. The enchanting garden grounds served as the opening act for the black-tie occasion; accented with glimmering lights and surrounded with whimsical music by the Steve Bayless Orchestra.

Steve Bayless Orchestra*

A seated dinner by Food Company was served in the Grand Hall. Tables laden with elegant linens housed Garden Gage arranged terrariums with live Monarch butterflies, all placed upon repurposed native Texas Tree ‘cookies’ from the ranch of TDG Executive Director Dick Davis.

Dick and Libba Davis*

Tom and Suzy Rhodes*

David and Waverly Smith*

Kristy and Patrick Sands and Erin Shields*

More than 240 guests celebrated the 2017 honorees and helped raise more than $190,000. The crowd consisting of Barbara Hunt Crow, Caroline Rose Hunt, Kristy and Patrick Sands, Ann and Bob Dyer, Myriam and Randall Graham, Lyda Hill, Erin Shields, Suzy and Tom Rhodes and David and Waverly Smith. 2017 Honorary Co-Chairs Bob and Myrna Schlegel, who were presented the Flora Award in 2016, and the ‘terrific trio’ are members of the prestigious honorees including Peggy and Carl Sewell, Laura and President George W. Bush and the late Ebby Halliday Acers, who are all recognized for their commitment to community service.

Lyda Hill, Caroline Rose Hunt, Barbara Hunt Crow and Bobbie Sue Williams*

The generosity of those who support the Flora Award fundraiser support the first public garden in the state of Texas to be certified 100% organic by the Texas Organic Research Center.  Children and adults discover and learn to sustain the natural world at the Fair Park grounds which will debut a new hummingbird garden and children’s playscape in the near future. To learn more, visit or support Texas Discovery Gardens and Butterfly House see www.TexasDiscoveryGardens.org or call 214.428.7476.

* Photo credit: James Edward

Minnie Marcus Butterfly Garden Takes Root At Neiman Marcus’ Original Site, Today’s One Main Place In Downtown Dallas

Neiman Marcus President/CEO Karen Katz had a lot of things on her mind just before 9 a.m. on Friday, July 14. As she crossed North Field Street to One Main Place with NM Corporate Communications and Events VP Mimi Sterling, she was checking her cellphone. Yup, there were meetings and folks whom she had on her schedule.

Roger Sanderson, Karen Katz and Dick Davis

Still, this appointment was important to Karen. It was the literal “groundbreaking” of the Minnie Marcus Butterfly Garden by Texas Discovery Garden, Neiman Marcus, Stream Realty, KFK Group and the Westin Hotel to “revamp” the planters outside of One Main Place.

Minnie Marcus Butterfly Garden volunteers

And why was this spot selected? According to NM VP of Internal Communications Jennifer Lassiter, this was the location of the first NM opened by Herbert Marcus, his sister Carrie Neiman and her husband Al Neiman.

Texas Historical Commission marker

It was a big undertaking for the trio. They had opted to open a specialty store instead of investing their savings and efforts in a soft drink called Coca-Cola.

But the brother and sister did just that and eventually shed Al. Herbert’s son Stanley Marcus admitted that it was Carrie’s taste that served as the foundation for the NM success. But they had just felt the first signs of success on their venture when a fire destroyed their original store, forcing them to move to another part of downtown Dallas.

In the meantime, Herbert’s wife, “Miss Minnie” Marcus, was raising four sons (Stanley Marcus, Herbert Marcus Jr., Edward Marcus and Lawrence Marcus) and nightly preparing dinners that could accommodate her husband’s bringing last-minute business associates home. Over the years, Miss Minnie would be known for her love of gardening. In fact, she was “made an honorary lifetime president” of what would become the Texas Discovery Gardens and in 1959 received the Dallas Nurseryman’s Award. At one point under her tutelage as NM Vice President of Horticulture, “there were 1,800 plants in 60 locations in the first two Neiman Marcus stores in Dallas.”

Jennifer Lassiter

Kevin Hurst

NM Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst and Jennifer put their heads together and came up with the idea of kicking off NM’s 110th anniversary at the original site with the Texas Discovery Garden “by restoring the planter boxes at One Main Place” to honor the matriarch of Neiman Marcus.

The planting of Minnie Marcus Butterfly Garden

Texas Discovery Garden Director of Horticulture Roger Sanderson selected the plants based on their ability to “grow well in the climate as well as attract Monarch butterflies,” which have become “a symbol and icon of the Neiman Marcus brand over the past century.” Think Mariposa Restaurant and the shape of the Minnie Garden at Texas Discovery Garden.

Texas Discovery Garden’s 2017 Flora Award Will Be Presented To Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith And Marilyn Waisanen At Annual Black-Tie Dinner

Since 1982 Texas Discovery GardensFlora Award has showcased individuals, “who have demonstrated a commitment to community service, natural resource education, protection of the environment and quality of life.”

Co-Chairs Kathryn Febbroriello, Angela Shank and Amelia Valz have just revealed that this year’s Award will be presented to a trio  — Bettye Slaven, Janet Smith and Marilyn Waisanen.

Marilyn Waisanen, Bettye Slaven and Janet Smith*

According to TDG Executive Director Dick Davis, “It is our honor to celebrate Bettye, Janet, and Marilyn, and to thank them for their time spent as Board members and volunteers at Texas Discovery Gardens. Between them, they have spearheaded the renovation of our Native Butterfly Habitat, inception of our Seasonal Garden Adoption program, creation of our Demonstration Gardens, beautification of our Grand Hall, and tradition of our Commemorative Bench over the past decade.”

Other contributions to the community have included their work with Swiss Avenue Historic District Association, Children’s Medical Center Auxiliary, Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, The Stewpot, Interfaith Housing Coalition, The Salvation Army, Junior League of Dallas and Dallas Women’s Foundation.

Serving as honorary co-chairs for the Thursday, October 26, presentation at TDG are past Flora Awardees Myrna and Bob Schlegel.

Proceeds from the black-tie dinner support the “educational mission to help children and adults discover and learn to sustain their natural world.” Tickets and sponsorships are available here.

* Photo provided by Texas Discovery Gardens