Of course, Evelyn Nilles is not his name and he just might be female so much does he resemble so many. “He” is that transportable Englishman, perhaps titled but in a minor county way, who is at every garden do on both sides of the shared ocean, who knows everyone and nothing at all and has become indispensable to the contemporary garden and its various affairs. He has resources enough to gad about, which is all to the good, for he is seldom paid and there is the unending expense of hotels, airplanes, car drivers, little presents for favors received, all of the burdens of being the fastest otter in the pool.
Of course he is the first to know just when the famous grounds of Prince Bayadushkaben-Adem are to be opened, just what species of Asian flower is coming down with alopecia, whether 1 trillion euros will suffice for the Emirate of Dinidrat’s Palace of Flowers (108 in the shade and no, not oil but pearls, all shapes, colors, sizes). He has discovered that petunia seeds are very, very bad for your health, particularly the hair, has unearthed Monet’s famous recipe for four-manure compost, is purportedly pioneering rice fields in the Siberian taiga, developing truly perennial corn and ever-blooming rhododendrons. Is it any wonder that Evelyn is a hit?
Of course Prince Charles’s border plans are open to him for the next 50 years, and it has often been hinted that he has had a generous hand of advice (frequently asked) for the heir to the throne.
What with all of his doings and publicity and thunderously important friends is it any wonder that all of this reclame has rendered Evelyn prime matrimonial material? Rumors of his preferences and enthusiasms have, however, caused perturbation as well as caution. There was that passion for a salamander on the island of Moustique when he was guest of Lady X (“Isn’t she a delectable flirt!”). At his estate in the Faroe Islands the Temple of Diana fell into lamentable ruin while that of Apollo was maintained impeccably (not a speck of moss and the marble polished to an embarrassing sheen). Which may or may not be a clue. At his galas, Evelyn appeared at one in mantilla and comb in a tableau and at another as a bare-chested pirate. Further, he seems to have a following of many very thin, very tall, young, short, and long-haired things of no discernible age or sex.
Is it any wonder that Evelyn is on the board of nearly every much-visited garden, making speeches, tossing out awards?
As far as his own garden, it presents very modestly, as if Evelyn were much too busy with the gardens of others to expend selfish time on his own. It is bland and neat, neither one thing nor the other. One might call it safe. . . .
It photographs extremely well in fog.
His dogs are very nice.