PHYLLIS ODESSEY

FYI: My name is CABOT

Envisioning
a Great Perfection
A Garden Conservancy
Tribute to FRANK CABOT
 April 30, 2012 – New York Botanical Garden

“It would be heartening if at least one member of each generation came to know and love plants in their infinite variety so that the garden’s growing element was perpetually refreshed and reinvigorated by an enthusiast’s hand.”

A young woman puts change in a public phone booth in London and calls Frank Cabot.  She asks to speak to Mr. CABEAU.  After a brief conversation, he offers her a plane ticket, place to stay and a position as a gardener.  Before hanging up: “FYI, it’s CABOT. “
recounted by Caroline Burgess, Director of Stonecrop

After two hours of tributes, it was clear that Caroline Burgess’ story was apocryphal. Frank Cabot’s generosity to gardeners was legendary.  He came from a patrician American family, but did not follow the expected path. His life as an investment banker, was overtaken by his passion for plants.

I was lucky to  meet Frank Cabot at his home, Les Quatre Vents (The Four Winds) in La Malbaie, Canada.  I knew who Cabot was:  knew how to pronounce his name:  knew he had founded The Garden Conservancy and given his home, Stonecrop to it,  he had saved the Ruth Bancroft Garden in California: knew he was a passionate plant collector. 

What I didn’t know was that Frank Cabot would be on his knees in the garden with trowel in his hand. This was the Frank Cabot everyone remembered.

His son, Colin gave the most personal view of Frank Cabot.  With good humor, Colin gave an example of his father’s autocratic nature. Camping trips were de rigeur, but they were not ordinary.  The making of biscuits, drinking of good wine and baking the occasional birthday cake were standard.  

Colin informed us that every family celebration ended with Frank Cabot reciting these verses from Candide.

Let dreamers dream
What worlds they please
Those Edens can’t be found.
The sweetest flowers,
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.

ENSEMBLE (a cappella)
We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow!

 

Frank Cabot made all our gardens grow.

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