The Campaign Spot

Spared by the Sequester: $704,198 for ‘Gardening Services’

Today’s edition of “Spared by the Sequester” comes from the U.S. State Department, which has awarded a contract for $704,198.30 for “gardening services at a residence located in Tervuren, Belgium.”

It is, presumably, the residence of the U.S. ambassador to NATO, a considerable estate:

Truman Hall is a traditional Flemish country estate built in 1963 for Côte d’Or chocolatier Jean Michiels. The house is the residence of the Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is named in honor of President Harry S Truman, one of NATO’s founders.

The design is the successful collaboration between Architect B. A. Jacquemotte and Landscape Architect René Pechère.

Pechère, one of the best-known contemporary landscape architects in Europe, transformed 27 acres of barren agricultural land into gentle hills and valleys, meadows, and formal gardens. A curvaceous cobbled drive, lined with roses, leads to the tree-lined approach to the residence. The home overlooks a sweeping lawn, towering cedars, English gardens and an herb garden. The lawn pavilion is planted with fragrant honeysuckles, roses, clematis, hydrangeas and wisteria. The original children’s playground, giant sequoia circle and maze are still effective landscape elements.

The contract is listed as covering “a base period of twelve months and four one-year option periods at the option of the Government.”

The contract was awarded yesterday, ten days after the sequester took effect.

Obviously, we want our ambassadors’ residences looking suitable to represent the United States, and this site is used for diplomatic purposes.

But for the amount the federal government spent on this contract for gardening services, we could keep the White House open for public tours for nine months.


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