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Bloomfield Hills

Published August 29, 2013

Fundraiser celebrates diamonds of the Cranbrook community

» click to enlarge «
The Diamonds at Twilight, Stars at Night event will give guests a chance to tour Cranbrook’s Sunken Garden, which features thousands of begonia plants.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — You may have heard the expression “diamond in the rough.” At Cranbrook, though, the diamonds are in the dirt.

On Sept. 12, the Cranbrook House and Gardens is teaming up with its neighbor, the Cranbrook Institute of Science, for a one-of-a-kind evening celebrating the sparkling diamonds in the estate’s garden, as well as those tucked high up in the sky. The Diamonds at Twilight, Stars at Night event will treat guests to a unique look at some of Cranbrook’s favorite treasures.

The second annual fundraiser for Cranbrook was inspired by the estate’s Sunken Garden and its striking diamond motif, according to Stephen Pagnani, head of communications for Cranbrook Education Community.

The beds were designed by Cranbrook House and Gardens Auxiliary volunteer Paul Nelson, who used his background in math and science to create the scheme. He refers to the creation as “diamonds with a twist.”

“There’s 220 flats, or about 11,000 begonias in there,” he said. “I think the weather was really great this year for the begonias. They’re quite lush and full right now.”

The pattern of Nelson’s design, Pagnani said, prompted Director Michael Stafford and his team to pull out some special items from the museum’s collection that are not currently on display.

“The four planted beds have a diamond design that’s almost Native American in its theme,” he said. “So we thought we’d tie in some Native American artifacts, some with floral or other Native American themes.”

Guests can enjoy light hors d’oeuvre and cocktails as they stroll through the Sunken Garden and the estate’s newly revamped conservatory greenhouse. Then they can hitch a ride on a shuttle, or even take the picturesque walk along the garden trails over to the Institute of Science to explore even more rarely seen artifacts.

While at the museum, visitors can check out the institute’s observatory and look through the telescope. At the close of the evening, dessert will be served at the Institute.

Pagnani said the evening will be unlike any other event at Cranbrook, as it gives visitors a relaxed, intimate tour of the gardens and Institute of Science at dusk.

“The warm glow of the house in the evening is really something, and we’ll open the telescope, which is fascinating in and of itself,” he said. “Even if you’ve been here, to do it after hours when there’s no one here is an entirely different experience. It’s kind of like Mackinac Island after the last ferry leaves.”

The Diamonds at Twilight, Stars at Night fundraiser will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12. Tickets are $50 for members of either organization or $55 for nonmembers. Advanced registration is required by Sept. 4. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (248) 645-3149 or visit

Cranbrook House and Gardens is located at 380 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills.

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