03 August, 2011

Boxwood Cocktail Fodder

Babe developed a real appreciation for English boxwood during our C'ville stint...

Our li'l cottage had outdoor English boxwood "rooms" where we took advantage of year round al fresco dining and the fire pit. The later usually finding me sportin' jammies under my Nana's mink stole and Uggs...

So, when Babe and I read this NYT article about the the National Boxwood Collection at the National Arboretum, I set up a private tour as one of his birthday gifts. Unfortunately, my crystal ball failed to mention that the outdoor walking tour I was booking would fall on theee hottest day of the summer during theee hottest point in the afternoon...

Forging ahead with plans, we arrived at the Arboretum and steeled ourselves for our 2pm, 115° traipse through the Boxwood Collection...

While Babe and our tour guide were prattling on about boxwood, I was going through resuscitation drills in my head wondering who was gonna go first, the already hot natured Babe or our gracious guide who had about as much business being out in that scorcher as children and pets...

Our fortitude paid off royally when we ran into the only other person nuts enough to be on the grounds in that heat, world renown boxwood expert and curator of the Collection, Lynn R. Batdorf...

We learned, and will be feasting off of at cocktail parties for yearsss to come, that dating back to BC, it was widely believed evil spirits lurked inside porous wood and jumped out of trees and bushes to attach themselves to passersby. But, since boxwood is so dense it sinks, it was considered evil spirit proof...

Thus evolved the traditions of surrounding homes with hedges of boxwood and the ever popular, All are welcome for no bogeymen reside here boxwood flanking of the front door...

Babe and I were on such a high after this chance encounter with Mr. Batdorf and cocktail fodder acquisition, we decided to soldier on to the Bonsai Collection passing by the garden shed "all the rich people bring their architects to copy" along the way...

Surprisingly, we were both completely captivated by the Bonsais that we had earlier pooh poohed...

But, right around the time we got to the Collection's in training for 400 years pride and joy, I started wilting. And, if I was wilting, that meant that Babe was about to spontaneously self-combust...

One glance at the rapidly changing shades of his purple polo and the Jack Bauer 24 count down clock started tick ticking in my head. Fortunately, my earlier preparation paid off and I was able to hustle him and our guide back to the air conditioned Information trailer before his explosion wiped out all of humanity and the growing concern of her family resulted in the launch of a search and rescue party...

Kindness of everyone for not holding my lack of story retelling talent against the esteemed Mr. Batdorf for his version was much more eloquent and detailed. And, our volunteer guide for being such a willing sport looong after her soaked in ice water neck kerchief had gone bone dry...XXOO


  1. I see visions of a "boxwood needlepoint backgammon" set....hmmm. I love your adventurous spirit and sportsmanship despite the heat you both know how to rally and find fortitude in your interests. "Staying power" is admirable. Boxwoods have staying power.
    love them too.

  2. another whole new meaning to "summer is a verb", just love your blog title-- :)

    that is quite a summering adventure!

    love all the info you gleaned and shared :)

  3. Love cocktail fodder like this! I'v spent the last 3 years planting boxwood around my house - good to know they're doing more than just looking good.

  4. Looks like a great trip! I'm moving to DC in the next few weeks for law school...I'm going to have to add the arboretum to my list of places to visit.


  5. Despite the heat, looks like a fun time and very interesting.

  6. I'm jealous beyond words! I give my husband a membership to the Arboretum every year. We are totally zenned out in the bonsai space. But I've never been to the boxwood section. Can't wait for new adventures...on a cooler day. Give Babe a high five from me!

  7. I'm so glad you posted this! I was intrigued after you told me about it ... will have to mosey down the neighborhood and pay it a visit!

  8. OMG i had no idea -thats fascinating!! Yes - garden tours in this heat are a bad bad idea!

  9. My, that is excellent cocktail party fodder!
    I knew there had to be a big payoff for the 80 holes I dug and plopped boxwoods into when I landscaped our house.
    Aside from the good fortune boxwood hold, they're a perfect and favorite filler in a vase (with or without blooms) year 'round.
    Very sturdy, they last for weeks and weeks and weeks and......

  10. The boxwood photos look lovely... I can't imagine traipsing around in that heat, though. You both are certainly champs for lasting as long as you did! (LOVE the cocktail convo fodder... I adore random facts like that!)

  11. Excellent fodder, indeed! And, more motivation to rip out some spindly azaleas and plant boxwoods, which also provide perfect greens for a Christmas wreath. Many thanks, and glad no one keeled over in the heat.

  12. The southern version of boxwood is ficus. While it doesn't have the same density it's a good privacy hedge.