When you've got it, flaunt it

The Baltimore Sun

I have it on good authority that some bigwig from the United Arab Emirates traveled all the way to Johns Hopkins Hospital recently for some sort of treatment. My source? The garden center that lugged about eight cypress trees, large topiaries, 40 hanging baskets and other greenery into her room.

That was on top of the floral arrangements. And no, they weren't the carnations-in-a-basket variety.

"The floral arrangements were out of this world. I'm sure Princess Diana did not have this for her wedding," said my source at Valley View Farms, the garden center that provided the greenery but not the flowers. "They were, like, 6 feet wide."

I'm told the arrangements came from Flowers and Fancies. No one there returned my phone calls, though the message-taker indicated that she knew what I was talking about when I said I was inquiring about extravagant flowers for a visiting UAE VIP.

My source at Valley View Farms was chattier, so long as I didn't give out her name. She was worried about upsetting her well-heeled customer. And no wonder, since she said the bill was "under $10,000." Not too far under, I take it. She estimated that the florist's tab easily topped that.

It took Valley View workers six hours to cart all of the greenery into the room, which looked nothing like ordinary hospital digs.

"I would call it a wing," my source said. "I had the feeling I was in a hotel, not a hospital."

The task was all the more arduous because the UAE crew did not want any men in the woman's hospital room. Valley View figured it needed two men to help a female employee move the trees. Eventually, after putting up some sort of barrier, they let one of the men in.

The big order put Valley View in a state of excitement not seen since the late 1970s, when Johnny Cash's tour bus stopped by unannounced. The Man in Black bought a peck of tomatoes.

And let the entourage flaunt it, too

Who's been shelling out $5,000 a night for the past month to occupy the entire top floor of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront? Apparently the same gal who had all those plants hauled into her room at Hopkins.

It's not clear if the patient is still in the hospital (whose officials, obviously, can't discuss who's there). But a source at the hotel tells me the woman and/or her entourage has been in the presidential suite for at least a month.

A spokeswoman at the UAE Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

So what do you get for $5,000 a night?

Fewer amenities than you might think. Yes, there is space - 2,900 square feet of it. A king-sized bed. And, when you get tired of looking at the water views, a flat-screen LCD TV.

But the bathroom boasts nothing fancier than a jet tub. "None of our rooms have Jacuzzis," a customer rep told me.

The kitchen has a fridge and sink, but no stove. Just a microwave by the mini-bar. Shouldn't this place come with a Viking range in case somebody wants to cook in? Is there no way to whip up a little mac 'n' cheese?

"No, ma'am," the rep said. "You're going to have it delivered to you."

Nevertheless, it's booked through mid-September.

Connect the dots

Sign outside St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Baltimore reminds us there are worse places to be than Baltimore in August: "You think it's hot here - God." ... Catercorner to St. Mark's, at St. Paul and 20th, sits the Church of St. Michael and All Angels. There, the sign out front says: "Thou shalt not kill - God." Said St. Mark's pastor, Dale Dusman: "God has spoken on both corners." ... Further proof that Gerry Evans has made a roaring comeback as an Annapolis lobbyist since his fraud conviction: He has enough money to fritter away $1,000 on Jill Carter's mayoral campaign. He wrote her a check July 11. ... Carter is lagging in fundraising, but she does have another big-name donor. Former Montgomery County Exec Doug Duncan gave her $6,000 from the pot of money he collected for last year's aborted gubernatorial bid. (Hold the ethics complaints: The $4,000 maximum doesn't apply to transfers from other campaign accounts.) ... As mayor, William Donald Schaefer was big on Do It Now. But his staff never got around to taking down a temporary sign announcing one of their doings. A placard identifying a Schaefer-era city project-in-progress has been up for more than two decades, long enough for it to rust. "Ballpark Improvement Program, 1986. Mayor William Donald Schaefer & The Citizens of Baltimore," reads the relic, which The Sun's Stephanie Shapiro spotted in a park off Fort Avenue.

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