On this tour make like a tree and leave

One of my greatest temptations is stealing flowers from other people’s gardens. I’ve never done it; well at least if you don’t count the time I clipped a branch with red berries from a neighbor’s tree for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. The branch was overhanging the sidewalk and could whack people in the face, so I don’t consider that a theft as much as I consider it performing a community service. And yes, I am aware such actions are often the gateway to more serious crimes.

It is with this penchant for criminality that I went on my first garden tour. My friend bought the tickets and had the map. “The tour begins with the house with the wraparound porch. You know the house?” my friend asked. Of course I knew the house; anybody who had driven through the village knows the house.

Being the first ones on site, my friend opened the front gate surrounded by enormous hydrangeas. We oohed and aahed our way up the walk to the lush garden beds surrounding the wraparound porch—freshly mulched hostas, sprawling blue veronica and cheerful Shasta daisies. There are few things I enjoy more than the fruit of other people’s manual labor.

I snapped pictures of every foot of the porch, including the beautiful front door, the light fixtures, the house numbers, the ferns and the outdoor furniture with luxurious pillows.

It was lush, peaceful and, wonder of all, we had this magnificent place to ourselves.

We walked the stone path around the house and through the side yard. We came upon a white gate featuring a birdhouse made out of a hat nailed to it. The gate led to the pool. We peeked in. Charming.

My friend wondered why they hadn’t deadheaded the roses for the tour. Tsk, tsk. And why no refreshments on the porch, I asked. We cackled like crows. We were having fun now.

A few steps later, there it was. The arbor swing of my dreams. I took a seat and breathed deep. Then I took a few more snaps. Maybe later I’d Photoshop myself into the arbor swing relaxing with a glass of iced tea.

It was fabulous, simply fabulous. We lingered some more. I took pictures of my friend’s daughter crouched next to a hydrangea bloom. I needed proof the blooms were larger than a human head.

Magnificent.

At the next garden on our map, a woman was in the driveway asking to see tickets. No one asked to see tickets at the other house. This place was crowded. We had the other place to ourselves. Of course, that’s because the first place we toured wasn’t on the tour. Turns out there are two houses in the village with wraparound porches.

I fired my friend as map reader.

I’d even taken a picture at the first house of a little ceramic sign that said Garden Tour. I hadn’t noticed it said 2012.

There are two ways to look at this; either we were trespassing, or we toured a garden three years late. In the interest of a clean criminal record, I’m going with the latter.

At least it wasn’t a house tour.

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