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Tue Jul 9, 2019, 11:45 AM

 

Who Built Our Garden?



Looking out this year at the magnificence of my garden yard, it's tempting to take an undue share of the credit for its vigorous and unprecedented growth. It's lushness that's developed over the 20 years I've been working on it betrays very little of the trials and deaths of countless would-be companions and allies I tried to mesh with this glad and busy assortment of perennials, shrubs, trees, vines and other volunteers gathered so close together in this well-established 'woodland' habitat.

Gone forever, from the front of the house, is that marvelously perfect lawn that I had maintained with pride at the highest height that I could set my favorite lawnmower. It was a gratuitous and patronizing notice in the mail from the neighborhood association that my lawn needed cutting (my favorite lawnmower had died) which gave me the resolve to eliminate it altogether; and fill the space with anything but the short, butchered grass which so improbably makes up the vast majority of the flora which is grown on the long, sloping front yards in our nature-filled community and is polluting our signature lakes like they were farmlands- with their excesses of nitrogen, potassium, and other grass-growing chemicals.

In place of my vanquished trophy lawn is a refuge of plants of like and different varieties; daylilies; hostas; iris; campamula; black-eyed susans; Asian lilies; snakeroot; sundrops; loosestrife; euonymous; lamium; strawflower; butterfly bushes; ferns; clematis; lirope; trumpet vine; oakleaf hydrangeas; climbing hydrangeas; hydranga-hydrangeas; kerria; Japanese maple; forest-pansy redbud; witch-hazel; Harry-Lauder walking stick; diverse assortment of viburnums; astilbe; virginia creeper; phlox; poppy; ajuga; sweet flag; sunflowers; monarda; comphrey; mint; perennial geraniums; vinca; sedum; mondo grasses; other ornamental grasses of various sizes; peonies; barberry; bayberry; beautyberry; oxalis; assortment of perennial hibiscus; chinese lantern; crepe myrtle; azaleas; firebushes; goldenrod; ballonflower; hechuera; dianthus; lobelia; and the rest of my rescued annuals which were fortunate enough (or, not) to spend the winter inside - all of this suburban habitat opportunistically assembled for my big and little animal friends to congregate and propagate amongst the tangle of leaf, flower, berry, and branch.





My new neighbor asked me how much water his yard would need to grow and prosper. I told him that plants will send up new growth to match the nourishment and sustenance you're able to provide. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.

Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.





Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?

Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?





Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?

Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?





Would that we could all be as enthusiastic and grateful for nature as the lowly caterpillar which has suddenly been transformed from a grub into a fluttering butterfly - able, at last, to explore and take advantage of the riches of nature from one garden to the next.

Maybe the ephemeral life of a butterfly wouldn't be such a smart trade-off. There's nothing at all which will ever completely ingratiate the former leaf-eater on a forced, slimmed-down diet with his nurtured, pollinated hosts. Yet, nature, by its own design, attracts and invites the obliging butterfly to become a vital and integral partner in the perpetuation of an important bit of what we call life on this planet.





Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though
Speech were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I (and others)
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness,
we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles . . .
Place in a puzzling light,
and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents
seem their own defense __


It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides. Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.



bigtree

29 replies, 4883 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who Built Our Garden? (Original post)
bigtree Jul 2019 OP
Arkansas Granny Jul 2019 #1
Mach1miles Jul 2019 #2
AllaN01Bear Jul 2019 #3
5X Jul 2019 #4
klook Jul 2019 #5
Politicub Jul 2019 #6
stillcool Jul 2019 #7
panader0 Jul 2019 #8
colorado_ufo Jul 2019 #9
KT2000 Jul 2019 #10
littlemissmartypants Jul 2019 #11
shanti Jul 2019 #12
bigtree Jul 2019 #13
shanti Jul 2019 #14
Demovictory9 Jul 2019 #15
tiredtoo Jul 2019 #16
msdogi Jul 2019 #17
Tanuki Jul 2019 #18
hunter Jul 2019 #19
demmiblue Jul 2019 #20
broiles Jul 2019 #21
Blue_Tires Jul 2019 #22
Karadeniz Jul 2019 #23
burrowowl Jul 2019 #24
gristy Jul 2019 #25
SWBTATTReg Jul 2019 #26
JudyM Jul 2019 #27
Ponietz Jul 2019 #28
Fla Dem Jul 2019 #29

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 11:48 AM

1. Beautiful. Definitely a labor of love. 🌺🌻🌹🌷🌸💐

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 11:48 AM

2. Beautiful.

 

You’ve got the right idea!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 11:53 AM

3. would love to see pics of this work of art.

properly impressed .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 11:53 AM

4. That was beautifully written.

Ashbery's too, but I mean your prose.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 12:03 PM

5. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring essay.

As a verdant oasis amid a bleak and harsh landscape, your post appeared, offering solace to the weary traveler.

Thank you for offering this refreshing interlude — a welcome pause for a cup of virtual tea in a peaceful garden.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 12:45 PM

6. Your garden is beautiful

And the essay is wonderful. Thank you for posting this for all of us to enjoy.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 12:45 PM

7. that is stunningly gorgeous..

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 12:53 PM

8. Your last sentence--very good.

"unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper
like they do..."
Beautiful Big.
Recommended.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:03 PM

9. Yesterday, my four year old grandson looked at the simple, common weeds growing on our ranch

and asked, "Grandma, did you plant these?"

"No, I said. They just grew there."

"But who planted them?" he persisted.

And then I realized, SOMEONE, SOMETHING had planted them: Chance, nature, God's will for even simple things? They did not "just grow there." They came on the wind, on the rain, through the irrigating water, by the fall from a bird's beak. They came from somewhere. Directed? Through the principle of random chaos? How, why, in what way?

The wisdom of a child: They did not, "just grow there."

But grow they did!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:07 PM

10. Yes! Yes!

This absolutely gorgeous. Lawns are a bit insane, IMHO. This promotes life, lawns do not. In order to meet the lawn standard, deadly chemicals have to be used and pollution from the engines and noise can upset a lovely day. No one lives there either. You have worked hard an achieved a thing of beauty.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:09 PM

11. Kicked and recommended. ❤ nt

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:10 PM

12. Beautiful garden!

What is that purple flower in the last pic? I replaced my grass front lawn with xeriscaping after our historical drought (CA) and love it. Unless one lives in a heavy rain area such as in the North, grass doesn't make much sense.

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Response to shanti (Reply #12)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:16 PM

13. it's a precious tree peony

 

...early bloom.




...just a few stems.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #13)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:17 PM

14. Oh my!

That's my new favorite flower

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:17 PM

15. beautiful

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 01:53 PM

16. Pictures and Prose

Beautiful, thank you.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:09 PM

17. beautiful

both words and garden. Thanks for the oasis you and nature have created and nurtured.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:16 PM

18. Bigtree, it did my heart good to see these pictures and to read about how any why you created this

lovely sanctuary. If a page on a computer screen did so much to lift my spirits when there is so much ugliness in the news lately, I can only imagine how wonderful it is for you to be surrounded by this every day! You are an inspiration.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:33 PM

19. My mom and my father-in-law are very similar gardeners.

With a very light hand they live in very beautiful places.

Things just grow for them.

My parents and my wife's parents live in magical garden worlds they've created and share with their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, relatives, and friends.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:36 PM

20. Welcome back, bigtree!

Wonderful pics (will read later).

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:39 PM

21. Thanks for this, both the pictures and the commentary.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:41 PM

22. deer? Where do you live?

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 02:43 PM

23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Most people don't realize how soul-satisfying a beautiful

Garden is. There wasn't enough of me to rescue animals and tend to plants, so I let plant beauty slide. So, I love seeing beautiful nature anywhere else. Thanks for sharing!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 04:04 PM

24. Beautiful!!!!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 05:05 PM

25. What a lovely post - a beautiful poem, I think.

Your garden is pretty nice too!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 05:20 PM

26. Thanks so much for sharing this precious gift with all of us here on DU! Magnificent. nt

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 08:22 PM

27. K&R.

I appreciate your effort and success... especially as a foil to my not so successful foray into naturalizing my yard. For years I’ve been nurturing a mossy front yard, which was thriving beautifully until my tRumper new neighbors with about 10 homeschooled kids cleared all the leaves in their wooded backyard and grassy weeds started growing like crazy, and they’ve been occasionally mowing them, fancying their “grass” which has spread rapidly so that’s the end of my moss. TRumpers.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Tue Jul 9, 2019, 08:47 PM

28. "Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone."

—Czesław Miłosz

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Wed Jul 10, 2019, 07:59 AM

29. A beautiful 20 year labor of love.

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