Perhaps someday, the garden will be complete. After twenty-seven years, much of the property is covered by ponds (below) and plantings, but the gardener’s work is never done, it seems, and much remains to be done along the edges. If all goes well, in another decade the garden should be perfectly satisfactory, though setbacks are to be expected.
With small exceptions, if time could be stopped, I would take the garden as it is today, before the next summer squall or winter storm wreaks havoc. Over three decades, substantial trees have been lost to wind and ice, and a portion of the rear garden has seemingly sunk so that it is constantly damp. Though storm damage is always disappointing, the opportunity to add new plants was not such a bad thing, and I’m more pleased with the after than the before. But, I’m not anxious to undertake further renovations. Now, I’m content to piddle around the edges, and a few areas that were reworked need a bit of growing in before they’re just right.
As the garden has matured, I find the areas I’m most pleased with require almost no care to maintain. These have small trees, often underplanted with shrubs or perennials, with the ground covered so that weeds (and weeding) are minimized. Not only is the look more complete, the areas require little labor. As I get older and lazier, this is more of a priority than it once was.
Beside the driveway three tall hornbeams have been lost in recent years. The replanting of this area (above) is nearly complete, but as trees have grown and much of the garden has become more shaded, the opportunity to plant in part sun has been welcomed. I’ve been conscious (for once) not to plant trees that will overgrow to shade this area, though now I’m considering a few small growing Japanese maples that will complete the picture as I envision it.
In the swampy area at the back corner of the rear garden, a large witch hazel and holly were lost, and the replanting is a few years from being where I’d like it. But, progress is in the works. Native buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), and chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) are just getting started, but they’re happy in the constant dampness and beginning to fill in along with Japanese irises (Iris ensata) that have spread through the standing water from a spring that was once almost dry, but has rejuvenated in recent years. I’m still planting a bit of this and that to determine which plants will cover the ground to keep weeds down, while also avoiding ones that might get out of hand.