Path at Georges Sand’s garden, Nohant.

The dream–Georges Sand’s garden at Nohant, painted by Delacroix.

The reality–a modest path bordered by sweet rocket and a a volunteer redbud.

A Worth creation

In my next life I will embrace minimalism. I will wear starkly tailored black clothes and live in a Richard Neutrahhouse decorated with no more than a couple of Noguchi pieces. I will become a vegan and drink nothing but Pernod. I will read Derrida and listen to Phillip Glass. I will make a Japanese garden with only three plants. If you believe that, I have a bridge I would like to sell you.
These are the facts–I believe that if you don’t have some excess in your life, you are on your way to becoming one of those one-dimensional stick people little kids draw. If I could choose two clothes designers, I would choose Vionnet and Worth. I like plush, lush, sumptuous stuff. I like silk velvet, satin, soft Kashmiri shawls, handmade Valenciennes lace. I like colors–cinnabar, eau de nil, heliotrope, indigo, lapis lazuli, rose madder, saffron yellow. Minimalism, deconstructionism, pretty much any kind of ism just isn’t my thing. There is no danger that I will become the owner of a Japanese garden. I don’t have the temperament for Zen. Mine is a very Victorian sensibility. I like Queen Anne houses and Cotswold cottages. I love Grand Marnier and I detest Pernod. Though I mean to reform any day soon, I am, at present, an unreconstructed meat eater. I love Eastlake chairs and camel back sofas, reproductions of Paul Duprees sugary botanical paintings, blue and white Sttafordshire, flowery Limoges, embroidered linens and frilly furbelows. I could almost say, as Flaubert did, that “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” Minus Charles, Rodolphe, Leon and suicide, bien sur.
I do not have the temperament for Zen. I adore Dickens in all his overblown verbosity, I love Tchaikovy’s folksy musical gingerbread and I would not trade Beethoven’s Appassionata for a million Glass concerti.
Now, don’t go thinking that I go around swathed in silks and velvets. I should be so lucky. I wear denim all too often. I live in a log house and my love of Victorian trappings is kept severely in check by budgetary constraints. But for better or for worse, plants are my downfall. I burn with a lust that has no bounds for roses and roses and roses and peonies and irises and ferns and poppies. I lust for pawpaw and yuzu and meddlars, bananas and fig trees. Then I lust some more. As we speak, I wait with great impatience for the arrival of approximately two dozens roses, twenty peonies, a dozen ferns, a white ornamental quince, a clump of Hakonechloa, half a dozen German irises and three Fialla lilacs. As I wait, I work on a wish list that grows dangerously long–the old roses roses Ghislaine de Feligonde, Guirlande d’Amour, Queen of the Bourbons, Ispahan, Kazanlik, Omar Khayyam, Deuil de Paul Fontaine, Charles de Mills, Rose de Reshts, Perles des Panachees, Tour de Malakoff, Robin Hood, and the newer Livin‘ Easy. Finding room for this many plants could be a problem unless I tear up the lawn. I have some space I am honor bound to leave untouched. The turtles and birds that live in my neighborhood need it more than I do. The lawn is another story. I am very tempted to do away with it. However, it is no good to imagine that it can be replaced by roses and perennials. I would have to go with native plan, deer resistant plants that require no watering. Bother. In my next life I to be George Sand. Better yet, I want to be Queen Victoria.