A Natural Garden

I spent yesterday morning with the volunteers at Pepperwood planting natives in one of their projects: a Native Garden in and around a small natural amphitheater on the slope immediately above their impressive Dwight Center building. While 99% of their effort is to restore this 3000+ acre sanctuary, this will be a showcase of native beauty for the many visitors to their community events at the center.

I am very impressed with the effort involved here. Assisted by a smart local landscape man, we planted native grasses, shrubs and ferns in this very carefully groomed 1/4 acre bowl. The soil had been carefully amended, 3/4" lines set, and a brace of mist-watered raised beds for wildflowers were waiting. We carved out generous holes, lined them with wire cages to defer gophers and deer, and ran drip lines to each spot. The plan is to water and mulch for a ear or two; when hopefully the carefully chosen specimens will be established between the rim of oaks to create a lovely meadow rimmed by tiers of benches. All that can be done will be done.

It's of course a persistent theme in landscaping to craft 'nature gardens'. And a rich irony it is to see how much work it is... so much more practical to sow the garden-adapted familiar plants that provide so much joy for less. Last spring when we visited the 'Embera Villiage' in Panama, the village women had a garden too: mostly zinnias, growing beautifully. I'm not sure they'd be tempted to try to cultivate the native orchids; in fact the very idea would probably puzzle them exceedingly.

The fact remains that the sturdy walker, in places and in seasons, gets an experience denied to visitors of the most ambitiously conceived and determinedly constructed 'nature gardens'. As the man said: there is "heaven in a wildflower"; and it's a bit of our hubris to think we can get this ourselves in our own backyards amid the chaos of our contemporary
human ecology. We must simply pray that we leave substantial bits intact to visit when the high tide of our civilization finally rolls back to its sullen sea.

Posted by icosahedron icosahedron, November 04, 2012 16:00


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