Gardening, like so many things, is a performance art. We think we have created something permanent - stone, soil, seed. But the world is built around flux. If not this year...decade..century...millennium, then in the next, all is certain to recycle. When the Mayflower landed, the New England countryside was primeval forest. By the 1800's one could ride the stagecoach from Boston to New York without seeing a tree. Now in the 21st century, the trees once again clothe the local landscape. Change is inevitable. So one might as well accept at the start that it is in the doing of a thing that our human lives are fulfilled. That is not to say that I don't enjoy a restoration project as much as the next person. But I will die happy if I can remain part of the performance, even if all there is left is the breath.
My former house and garden were in an old part of an established New England town. Originally Victorian in color and theme, it moldered away under layers of years and paint to the point of rot. Shrubs, hedges and trees overgrew, as they were originally planted to close to the buildings. After years of labor, terraced rock gardens were installed, the Victorian house colors restored, and shrubs and small trees lined the street side for privacy. There were collections of exquisite wildflowers, from double trilliums to Streptopus roseus on the side of the house. Now there is a decorator yellow house with green grass manicured all the way to the street. A passerby can look directly into the living room from the road. A little outdoor grill sits off the front steps. I am sure the new owners are very satisfied to have the additional mowing chores.
One thing they did leave was a rather nice Magnolia stellata. And of course the performance of the garden still remembered lingers in my mind. It was very satisfying. To give you a peek, I have reprinted a glimpse of my life and the gardens there:
A Perfect Summer Morning
After a summer night of rain, the sun peeks through the mist of the morning. It is hard to tell how the day will blossom as the light slinks up the bedroom wall. You almost feel the mist upon your face as you gaze out over the garden.
Eager to meet with the day, you take your cereal bowl to sit on the stone steps at the side of the rock bedecked slope. Color is the first thing to greet you. The blues of summer gentians, lagodechiana and septemfida, are full blown now. Their royalty sparkles in the steamy light. Underneath your legs, Erinus alpinus olivieri, unlike its plain muddied sister, clears your brain's palate like some refreshing fruit sorbet. In another garden, on another day, this has been called E. a. 'Dr. Hanele'. New to the garden, it was an early spring division from a friend. The leaf and habit looked very usual. The clear pink color has moved it to a class ahead.