Socialite Marylou Whitney helped the Yaddo Garden Association celebrate its 20th anniversary by planting one of her custom “Marylou” roses in the Yaddo garden Sunday.
Whitney’s husband, John Hendrickson, had the special rose created for his wife by rose breeder Brad Jalbert of Select Roses in British Columbia. The fragrant soft pink, long-stemmed rose, called the “Marylou Whitney,” was a birthday gift from Hendrickson.
The Garden Party attended by about 150 people was a celebration to honor the 180 volunteers who maintain and improve the rose gardens at Yaddo, the famous artists’ retreat on Union Avenue, said Lesley Leduc, Yaddo’s publicity director.
“Marylou Whitney and Jane Wait, founder of the Yaddo Garden Association, are longtime friends and, as I understand it, it was Jane Wait who suggested that John Hendrickson arrange to have a rose named in honor of his wife,” Leduc said.
Wait founded the association in 1991 as a way of reclaiming what had been a beautiful rose garden in the early 1900s at the home of Spencer and Katrina Trask.
The Trasks created the artists’ retreat and left their estate and a large endowment so the retreat could continue to host famous artists, writers and musicians.
The gardens had been neglected and no roses were growing in the gardens in 1991, said Margaret Jacobson, president of the Yaddo Garden Association. Now, more than 800 rose bushes are planted in the gardens.
Wait coordinated the improvement and maintenance of the gardens with 17 volunteers to start. Now there are 180 volunteers. Collectively, they devoted over 3,300 hours last year to the gardens.
The Garden Party was also a fundraising effort for the association. Those attending paid either $50 or $100 as a “patron” of the gardens. When Hendrickson offered some remarks about the association, he said he and Marylou wanted to donate some “fertilizer” for the gardens in the form of a $10,000 donation.
The Yaddo Gardens are open year-round to the public free of charge, in accordance with the wishes of the late Katrina Trask. Docents conduct tours of the gardens at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays and on Tuesdays during the racing meet for $5 per person.