maybe this is what gardening is about: slowly opening the door, a controlling hand making tentative gestures to wildness. – from The Gardener’s Manifesto by Lorraine Johnson
‘i’m determined to tame the wilderness,” i declared confidently to a visiting friend as i painstakingly place intermediate witch hazels in their future homes along my woodland driveway. my quest seems particularly laughable on this morning, since my five-acre lawn hasn’t been mowed in three weeks and the grass more closely resembles a wild meadow – and not in the good way. the witch hazels are placed optimistically among fonts of unwelcome (and uninvited) berberis thunbergii and rosa multiflora, not to mention pine seedlings run amok in the graveled part-shade.
but i persevere, placing the witch hazels and envisioning next year’s rainbow of late winter blooms, already trying to imagine what type of groundcover would best complement the hamamelis. across the gravel i am continuing my quest to sheet mulch the inhospitable stream bed colonized by moisture-sucking pine roots; the far side of the stream bed hosts my experiments in blueberry farming and shade-lovers alike. a row of primula japonica and iris siberica march along the bed, meeting the driveway, and already on the far side of the culvert i can see the row continuing with plants as yet unpurchased. i see a dogwood, perhaps; some mertensia virginica and dicentra eximia and plenty of naturalizing daffodils. i long for tulips, but those would be a step too far in tempting the ubiquitous wood goats that terrorize my property.
is it ridiculous to describe my ultimate goal as a sort of curated wildness? cultivated plants evicting the wild invaders, making themselves comfy in ground prepared by the unwanted thugs and their ground-churning roots.