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Gardening, At Dumbarton Oaks

This morning, I walked to Dumbarton Oaks a sprawling estate, high above Georgetown. Gail Griffin, the director of gardens and grounds there, kindly introduced me to Rigoberto "Rigo" Castellon, a crew leader.

For an hour, he graciously gave me a tour of the impressive grounds. Afterward, I watched him and his co-workers pot plants and arrange the arbor terrace, overlooking a small grove of Kiefer pear trees. A dozen people oversee the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, which were designed by landscape architect Beatrix Jones Farrand.

About those Kiefer pears: As you'll see in these photographs, the gardening crew has put clear glass bottles around several of them. (Castellon uses twine to hold them in place.) When the pears are ripe — and larger, the gardeners will fill the bottle with brandy. (This tradition is time-honored, I was told.) — David Gura