Every year, as the seasons go from young and fresh spring to red-hot plump summer, then finally to lean and brittle winter, I see two gardens: the one I plant and tend – and the larger garden of nature's wild trees, shrubs, plants that surround my cultivated space.
|Before I Dug My First Hole in East Haddam|
So, why do I, and millions like me, feel the need to garden in places like my rural piece of Connecticut?
The question arises any time I look at borrowed scenery bordering my acre of gardens, any time I take a walk into the woods, seeing close-up what grows there – the ferns, wildflowers, pines, oaks, beech. Isn’t nature’s garden enough?
Friends of mine and I agree that we garden because we share a basic need, a desire, to mark the land. To put our stamp on it. To be sure, we could do nothing but enjoy what nature gives us, and our land would be marked, as nature marched right up to our homes. But, that passivity would be disconcerting. It also would lead to a loss of control, as nature would literally cover us up.
So, we mark the land.
Over and over again, I've seen them in places throughout the world: plantings around dwellings surrounded by incomparable scenery. (Even when fires or storms destroy homes, you can still tell someone years earlier marked the land with plants such as ivy and verbena, two I’ve noticed around many ruins grown over in the woods.)
|By 2010, I Had Marked the Land|
colorful flowers thrive on their own, gardens still grow around houses everywhere.
On the Isle of Wight, I learned that most residents could not resist planting – hydrangeas were particularly popular, with vibrant fall leaf color – even though the woods and water could thrill forever. On Cape Ann, Massachusetts, too, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where natural beauty awes and inspires, where coastal waters and arid delights proliferate like sea grasses and sagebrush, people must put their own stuff in the ground. We all want our stamp on it.