PHOTOS: Top- An unearthly green rose in bloom. Black ones also grow in this mysterious garden. Below: The upstairs window where I saw the "docent" glaring down at me.
Since the garden is freely open to visitors, I've spent more time there than anywhere else, including visits in the early evening. Tight pathways lined by waist-high hedges give a labyrinthine feel to the garden approach. One late afternoon I happened to look up at the upstairs bedroom window, and noticed a costumed docent frowning down at me. As it happened, I was collecting a few seeds from an unusual small mallow, a minor theft that I didn't think would trouble anyone. But apparently it did. As I went around to the front of the house , I found that the house was already closed and locked. And, with the exception of some special celebrations, the docents do not usually wear costumes.
Over the years, while dining across the street at the Old Town Mexican Cafe, I became accustomed to noticing that the shutters of the second-storey windows would sometimes open while we ate dinner, long after the house was closed for the day. On a recent visit, I could feel the energy in several spots in the house, particularly in the courtroom, where I also smelled the faint scent of a cigar, supposedly Whaley's calling-card. In the hallway, I smelled perfume, initially attributing that to the young woman acting as docent, but some later surreptitious sniffing in her direction as I talked to her about the house revealed her to be scent-free.
PHOTOS: Left- The rose garden. No spectral cats or dogs visible today, but they've sometimes fought here. Right- Large pepper tree was planted by Anna Whaley. An unknown spirit in a stovetop hat sometimes waits beyond the tree.