The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Turtle Pond

Turtle Pond from the Deck

Textures in the Wetlands adjacent to the Pond

Turtle Pond hasn't been this small in years. The drought has dried the pond to about the size I first saw it about a quarter of a century ago. In the last decade, the beavers have created dams that have increased its size and have flooded the wetlands. Many of the red maples have died there and have created a birders paradise.

My in laws have a cabin on Turtle Pond about 5 miles inland from the ocean in Wells, Maine. The cabin is not winterized and has electricity but no TV or telephone. Watching the wildlife from the deck is the entertainment. When I first came to the cabin, you had to carry your bags about a football field distance from the road and it felt quite remote, especially before cellphones came along.

In the last several years, since my father-in-law got Alzheimer's disease, I have been involved in maintaining the land on the property. I have been clearing brush, mowing the fields and keeping nature from engulfing the cabin. In the meantime, I have become a more keen gardener and have been observing the plants around the cabin and their habitats. This year, the wetlands next to the pond are lush and relatively dry (because they are not flooded) and I have been noticing how the diverse population of plant species have woven themselves into a tapestry of textures.

I am embarrassed to say, that I don't know most the plants that are growing in these wetlands. I seem to know more about rare and unusual plants from Korea and Japan than I know about the native plants outside my own backdoor. I need to correct that. At ant rate, what I am noticing are the combinations of textures created by the grasses, ferns, spireas and the rounded leaves of the pickerel weed. They look ravishing in a very subtle way. I am certain William Robinson, Gertrude Jekyll, Karl Foerster and more recently Piet Oudolf noted all these things many years ago but I am finally seeing them now.

What I would like to do next in my gardening education is to track down some of the planting plans that these gardening Gods have created and pick them apart to see how they interpreted the combinations they observed in nature, each in their own unique way that reflected the times in which they lived. Hopefully it will give me insight into how I will build the wild garden that I am developing on my own plot. Time will tell.

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