Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Marginal Gardening

I have just moved into a new 10 acre property in the foothills of the northern cascades in Washington state just south of British Columbia, near a small town called Sumas.

It is a place that demands poetry; I was out walking last night and was very overwhelmed with very deep kind of inexplicable joy at the splendor of this place. The hemlocks look like they are glowing from the spring growth; the Douglas firs are magnificent in silhouette against the orange dusk, and the wild explosion of huge daisies is punctuated by foxgloves which have strings of bells all the way up. Most of these are magenta, but there are a few which are pink and I have found a few which are pure white. There are hundreds of maples and birch, along with red cedars and a few spruces. My favorite is a young but growing grand fir in our lawn, probably 40 or 50 ft tall. Mountains surge across the horizon behind these trees and some still have snow dusted across the top. The birds are an amazing symphony in the early morning. There is a maple-like vine that is growing up the trunk of a towering cottonwood which has brilliant red winglike seeds sprouting from it, all over in a great web. When it is clear like today, it is beautiful, but when it is hazy and foggy there is a special and mysterious feeling; the mountains and distant trees become vague but sharp silhouettes against the white mist and the clouds cling to the closer hills. People say they long for the sunshine but I love it all, I really do. I regret that it took me so long to arrive here.

In my quest to find my right relationship with this very hallowed place, I chanced upon a book by Geoffrey Dutton called 'Some branch against the sky'. He practices what he calls marginal gardening, which means from my reading, gardening by setting environments in motion with plantings and then pretty much letting them take their course without much intervention. It isn't so much about indigenous planting as it is about minimal intervention.

Luckily for you, my reader, I know absolutely nothing. I am barely starting to learn the trees and flowers and grasses that grow here, so you can learn with me and help me out with this if you know something. So this is a blog about my experiences and the poetry that my relationship with this land births.

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