"Late to party" is a title I always try to avoid but in the case of last night it was years in the making.
Teri and I had the pleasure to visit and dine at the legendary Linda Garland Estate last night in honor of a local Nyuh Kuning boy suffering from an advancing medical condition. The fundraiser was reason enough to attend, but being on property for the final evening of the estate under Linda’s ownership made me wish I had arrived at this party 20 years ago.
Linda came to Bali in 1974 and with the help of an English butterfly specialist found this property and started on a lifetime journey as designer, architect, community shepard, environmentalist, and researcher of bamboo as an alternative lumber. Long before Bali was the international destination it is today she carved out a 30 acre swath of hillside and built several stunning structural designs in bamboo and wood.
Sadly the nexus of this lifetimes work pasts this evening as the property transfers hands to a new and different steward in the morning. I can’t help but feel like the last guest at the party. Never wanting it to end. Begging for more of the pleasures that keep me up late at night.
The party for us began with a tour of the bamboo arboretum that provides the vista of sweeping hillsides from the front porch of the main house. Linda started the arboretum in the early 1990’s as part research project into bamboo as a sustainable structural component and part inspirational muse to her acclaimed interior design career. Ably lead by her young and charismatic son Karim we walked the trails in the waining evening sunset learning bamboo stories of growth and success, varietal strains and diversity. We saw the “king of bamboo” with its giant girth and weight next to elegant and simply ornamental bamboos of delicate beauty. We learned the transformational effects these bamboo forests have on the spring water around our feet and the cooling convection effect that the structures across the ravine enjoy.
As evening falls we emerged from the bamboo jungle below to the expansive lawn in front of the main house where a single table for 75 awaits. Candled paths lead us towards music, drink and laughter.
As the evening unfolds over dinner and wine I hear stories of parties past and imagine those that might have reveled here from Linda’s extensive list of celebrity clients and friends. I envisioned rock stars and entertainment icons, designers and filmmakers enjoying the cool evening air as music blankets the table. The dancers in white at the edges of the candle lit lawn look like ghosts of guests past coming to join in the final celebration. I hear a collective sigh as the evening fades and the evening comes to an end.
I wish I had been invited to this party twenty years ago. I hated to be late to this lifetime celebration of art, design and beauty. The majesty and peace of this place, so close to Ubud, makes it easy to imagine little has changed here since the party started. Linda Garland was sadly unable to make the last evening at her estate, but to a woman I have never met , I hope we honored your creation one last time as those have done before us.