Home & Design

Green Acre #103: Smell Not, Want Not

The A. giganteum of Capitol Hill go bob-bob-bobbin’ along. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

IT STOPPED raining the other day, you may have noticed.

Along East Capitol Street in Washington DC, Capitol Hill’s Grand Boulevard, the gardens are a little overgrown and blown about from the downpours, but still splendid. The roses are outrageous this year, massive canes drooping under the weight of the flowers—and no sign of black spot, yet. The alliums (A. giganteum), which once again I forgot to plant, are up and their fluffy purple heads are the size of melons. Peonies are flopped over fences, fleshy pink petals dripping perfume.

I assure you that the Prince and I were neatly dressed when out for a stroll last Sunday evening. We were eyeing one such delightful display when the Lady of the Manor walking her no doubt inventively named and pricy mutt stopped on the sidewalk and glared at us. “What are you doing,” she growled, as if we were planning a petunia heist. “We’re just admiring,” I said in impossibly sweet response, as opposed to biting her head off as well as the dog’s.  “Oh! Well, thank you,” she simpered, not in the least embarrassed, and sashayed into her manse.

Such a picture of innocence we were.

I’m not going to tell you where I pinched a bit of a plant commonly called twisted jasmine (more haughtily known as jasminum tortuosum), but there was no way I could resist. This is a jasmine unlike any I have sniffed, entirely without the slightly dirty tang most of these tropical plants have, a scent that always has me waffling between love and ugh, though I lean toward love. This smells of honeysuckle, clean and soft. If I hadn’t, shall we say, groomed it, I’d still be standing in this place I’m not telling you about with my nose buried in the blossoms.

You are a terrible person, I said to myself as I pinched. I know, I’m so ashamed, I murmured. But what can I do? I love it and I want it.

No! No! You mustn’t pick at people’s plants, I insisted. If everyone went about pinching off bits there’d be nothing to sniff, nothing to admire.

(Though of course they could come on-a my house . . . )

This is the last time, I swear it, I whispered as I surreptitiously tucked my little, really little, twiggy into my pocket.

Conducting an Internet Investigation at home I read that such jasmines are vigorous growers, clambering up into trees—at least in South Africa, where it is native—but hard to propagate. So while I’d dipped the stem of my foundling in rooting powder and tenderly tucked it up alongside one of my well-established, potted jasmines—kind of like the plant edition of one of those dogs you see online that adopt a baby ostrich—as backup I investigated actually buying the plant.

At Amazon, there was one on offer for 10 bucks, not a bad price, though not eligible for Prime so there was a modest shipping fee involved. But, in the fine print, the pot size was said to be 2½ inches. This gave me pause. I whipped out the ruler from my desk drawer, brushed off a desiccated jelly bean and marked the size with my fingernail. That is really small.

Another place offered one for just eight bucks, no size mentioned, shipping $17.

Perhaps I’ll call around to some local garden centers this weekend and see if I can find one, but in the meantime I’ll practice watchful waiting and root for my twig. Go, twig!

Last-minute update: It does appear a little splat this morning. Sigh.  Serves me right, eh?

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

When LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” isn’t purloining plants, she’s confessing it all to us on Thursdays.

One thought on “Green Acre #103: Smell Not, Want Not

  1. Carol says:

    I see it all!!! Laughing and being jealous! Jasmine is good, but the adventure better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *