One seventeen foot stretch of the garden is of incomparable lushness and beauty. I walk these six paces frequently, though I take my sweet time about it, and six full paces are more typically a dozen shuffling steps. Often, a few moments are spent kneeling to enjoy the scene longer and from a lower perspective. It is difficult for me to believe that I’ve created such a paradise, though quite a small one, and perhaps not worthy of even piddling mention alongside masterpieces of the gardening world.
While overjoyed by this seventeen feet, the eighteenth and nineteenth are not so bad, and smaller spaces throughout the garden bring similar satisfaction. In all, there is no place I would rather spend time than in this garden, though there are times when weeds have grown tall and thick that I could be persuaded otherwise.
No doubt, the garden has its flaws, which my wife is happy to point out. Unsurprisingly, her criteria and mine are poles apart. I relish the garden’s wildness, and if paths are partially (or mostly) obscured by oversized leaves so that small frogs must leap from their cover as I approach, this is my joy. Yes, paths are too narrow, and stones unstable. Some stone walls were constructed two decades earlier, and now they have fallen into disrepair. Snakes lurk between and beneath the stone slabs, and though I’m not deathly fearful, I would prefer to skip this confrontation, so the walls will remain as is.
Plants are too often planted too closely, but for a few errors, this is how I prefer the garden. One plant flows into another, and in this seventeen feet there is not a spot of bare earth until winter. There is water, a narrow stream that winds between moss covered stones into dark, deeper pools alongside a path of well worn fieldstone. Water, stone, and plants, I cannot imagine an ingredient that is missing.
A mix of large and small leafed hostas border the path and stream and several hostas emerge from gravel at the pond’s edge. Overhead, branches from a red leafed Japanese maple with deeply cut lobes, and from a serviceberry arch so that visitors must duck slightly to avoid wet foliage after a rain. The deep, damp shade ensures that hostas and Japanese Forest grass thrive, and that a slow growing colony of sweetbox could be encouraged to grow through cracks in the path to be almost invasive.
The stream and plantings would not be nearly so pleasing if not for the thick covering of moss. Surprisingly, at least to me, there are people who object to moss, and there are potent products intended to eliminate it from the garden. Certainly, I understand keeping a paved surface free of moss, though I don’t care to, but for me any moss covered surface is improved immeasurably. If I could cover all the ground beneath plants with it, certainly I’d be quicker to remove leaves in late autumn.
The hostas that grow here are a combination of ones that I’ve planted, some that have grown from seed, and others that reverted from one form to another. This creates a mishmash of sorts, but hostas are quite forgiving so that variations of size and color usually blend successfully, no matter the skill of the gardener.
Japanese Forest grass is another that blends harmoniously in just about any shaded area. It is slow to establish, but patience is rewarded by a mound of golden foliage that brightens any shaded area. In dry shade Forest grass is not so content, but along this seventeen foot length between the coolness of a stream and fieldstone path, it flourishes.