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Green Acre #27: They Came, They Saw, They Laughed

dumbarton oaks

Dumbarton Oaks, lovely. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

EARLY THIS SUMMER, Carol—The Prince’s ex-girlfriend thrice removed, a subject I’ll return to shortly—arrived for a long weekend. As our city garden was particularly fine, I was particularly pleased. I lowered my lashes as she enviously sniffed the jasmine and admired the trailing stephanotis.

I’m never more attractive than when I’m looking modest, though I had less than usual to do with the brilliant performance of my plants, having spent the spring being benignly neglectful, also known as sublimely lazy.

One trek we took that weekend was to the 27-acre garden of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, which was created in the early 1930s surrounding the home of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss.

Now public, the estate has pools and fountains and lawns and arbors and trails that wind, and benches on which to sit and contemplate or read or snooze amid gardens dedicated to roses and herbs and flowering trees and vines.

Pure bliss.

Having drowned in the scent of the Orangerie, and burned our feet on the paths, we took gasping refuge from the appalling heat in the Arbor Terrace. It’s a cool stony spot where a mythological god-head carved into a wall spits into a pool and the white hot sun is diffused by the mass of wisteria that clambers over the barrel roof.

dumbarton oaks

Dumbarton Oaks, again lovely. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

I would like something like this under the back porch, I babbled, flailing my arms about hither and thither in inspired consideration.

Maybe we can’t have vine-covered barrel arches overhead (and God forbid more wisteria), I said, but the under-porch beams have a rustic charm, the walls are brick, and there’s a similar greenish glow from the garden that’s reflected in the French doors that lead to the home’s grotto level (as I like to think of it, though others might call it the basement, or worse).

There could be a fountain mounted on the far wall that would spout into a somewhat smaller pool, and maybe we could fit a little bistro table and chairs?

Wine, cheese, some grapes maybe . . . mi amor?

Carol laughed as My Prince skittered away.

I do look forward to Carol’s visits—The Prince has such fine taste in women. I’ve met several of his exes, and they’re all quick and smart and funny. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that their visits are reminder trips, like those people take when they’re not quite sure they’re ready for kids and visit couples with multiple toddlers, at nap time.

The girlfriends come, look at his half-finished projects and the extraordinary mess that is his garage—it’s tempting to nominate him for that hoarding show—and leave with a sigh of relief at my truly boundless luck.

Oh, he was so easy to fall for; not only was he eye candy, he could actually do guy things.

Now my Pre-Prince, a lawyer, was the least-handy breed of person imaginable. That he knew which end of the hammer you banged with was the sum total of his expertise. He once went to a woodworking class figuring he’d make a coffee table, drawing up all sorts of plans in advance. I waved a lace-edged hankie as he drove off.

green acre

Under LittleBird Stephanie’s porch, not so lovely. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

An hour later he came home, poured a glass of wine, and announced, “Jews don’t make coffee tables, they hire people to

make them.”

Similarly handicapped I, of course, needed to get me one of those (people, not coffee tables); in this case a 6’ 2” blue-eyed goy-toy born with a hammer and a level in hand, who finds endless employ as a restoration carpenter.

That was at a time when I thought you needed nothing but willpower to keep the chins up. Had I been wiser, I’d have gone with a plastic surgeon—or stuck with a lawyer who could afford to pay for one, since I have demonstrated no personal skill at making money. This should probably alarm me, but it’s too late now to bother.

So commenced 33 years spent fantasizing projects like grottoes and powder rooms, verandas and, oh, a swimming pool with a drawbridge so one could cross to the garage, which would make such a sweet studio . . . None of these concepts has  materialized, though that never stops me.

That was a long, but I think interesting aside, at least to me.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird Stephanie occasionally takes breaks from actual gardening to fantasize about how she should be gardening. You can find all of her gardening columns by typing Green Acre in the Search box at the top right of the page.

One thought on “Green Acre #27: They Came, They Saw, They Laughed

  1. Bonnie Mitchell says:

    Interesting essay on choices. Thrice removed Carol’s and Little Bird S’s. Interesting, too, that the goy-toy might have been born with a hammer and level but how effectively does he use it in his own home? Randomly thinking.

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