The Fairy Godmother of Botanical Gardens
It's the birthday of Enid Annenberg Haupt, born today in 1906.
The very woman the president of the New York Botanical Garden called, "The greatest patron American horticulture has ever known."
Enid was one of eight children; her parents Sadie and Moses had one son and seven daughters.
Her father was the founder of a large publishing empire.
Enid followed in his footsteps was an heiress to the large family fortune.
Enid's first marriage ended in divorce. Her second marriage to Ira Haupt launched her philanthropic activities and introduced her to the world of gardening.
When they were engaged, Ira gave Enid a cymbidium orchid.
At the time, cymbidium orchids were rare in the United States.
Enid was immediately enthralled by it.
She told Ira that for her wedding present from him, she would be very happy with a gift of 13 cymbidium orchids. She was set on learning how to grow them herself and propagate them on her own.
In fact, the cultivar Cymbidium Enid Haupt was named in her honor. Enid found this ironic since that particular orchid is known for its fertility. Enid could not have children of her own. However, she and Ira eventually adopted a little girl named Pamela.
Enid's brother, Walter, gave her a chance to be a publisher. Initially, Enid was terrified. Yet, Enid had proved she had many talents. She was a good writer. She loved to grow orchids. She had an impeccable sense of style. When it came to running a magazine, Enid felt she was over the tips of her skis. Walter insisted she give it a go.
In 1953, Enid was put in charge of the magazine Seventeen.
She ran the magazine until 1970. During her tenure, Seventeen magazine was more popular than Glamour and twice as popular as Mademoiselle. At one point, more than half of the teenage girls in the United States were reading Seventeen magazine.
When Enid died in 2005, she had donated more than $140 million to charities.
Her favorite charities involved gardening. This is how Enid became known as "the fairy godmother of American horticulture" and "the patron saint of public gardens."
One of Enid's largest gifts was to the New York Botanical Garden. Over her lifetime, Enid gave them over $34 million – $5 million of which was dedicated to the restoration of the stunning Victorian glass greenhouse now called the Enid Haupt Conservancy. Without Enid, the greenhouse would have been demolished.
In 1993, Enid told the Times,
"I must have a project.That should be my middle name; Project. I'm really and truly not happy without one."
And it was in Enid Haupt, who said,
"Nature is my religion. There is no life in cements and paint. "
As I was researching Enid Haupt, I came across a wonderful article in the Austin American-Statesman from June 18, 1971. It sheds light on Enid's life after retirement from Seventeen magazine.
The article shared fantastical scenes from inside Enid's Park Ave. Apartment:
Instead of curtains, Enid had potted camellia plants on either side of the windows. In order to survive indoors in New York, they needed to be misted three times a day.
And there was a rug in her drawing-room that Enid claimed she had waited 23 years to acquire. It was from the Palace of Versailles and it featured antique hollyhocks and tulips on a rose background.
"Plants are my life. I feel responsible for them."
And Enid cautioned against babying plants, she said
"I have a protective attitude without pampering. If you pamper a plant, It's like a person. It grows too soft."