Sunday Opinion: Aging Beautifully

I had occasion to deliver a few pots to a client whom I did landscape work at least 20 years ago.  This picture of her Vincenza stone trough on a frog base that she bought from me 15 years ago I posted a week ago or so.  I like it enough to post it again.  The trough is classic Italian style-the three moss and ivy puppies sitting in a bed of lime selaginella is classic MM style.  I was so pleased to see that all these years later, that trough still looks tended to- great.

I recognized the beds of hostas and roses, some of the specimen trees, and the gravel car park. The landscape was long standing and established the first day I went there.  My client is has a point of view about design.  She loves her land and landscape, and handles all of it brilliantly.  I just lent a hand  on a few projects.  Every bit of her committment was still in evidence.  

She bought some of the most beautiful garden ornament that ever crossed my path.  These antique square French concrete pots were hand carved in a volcanic stone pattern-they are stunning.  An early 20th century French faux bois bench-gorgeous.  All of the trees behind have been there longer than I have known her; they still thrive.  No doubt she has a hand in this thriving going on. 

Next to that bench, a stoneware pot from my Branch studio.  We call thse hugging pots-they are pots deliberately out of round.  The pot was a gift from a group wanting to express their appreciation to my client over her community service to the arts.  They picked well.  A decidedly contemporary pot next to this 90 year old bench-my client’s idea of a good look.

A hand forged iron gate to the side garden is about buried in an arbor of old wisteria.  I do admire how she lets living things express themselves without interference.  She seems to know just when to stop letting something go, and she responds to that gently.  Everything in her garden is kept just shy of chaos-the effort and confidence that this takes I greatly admire about her.   

20 years ago I planted a columnar spruce next to the house-Picea Cupressina. In the intervening years, it has expanded to the limit of the space available, and no further.  The tree placement was fine, I am happy to say. Should a landscape look the best the day it goes in, there is a problem somewhere. This older landscape looks all grown up, in the best sense of the word.     

This antique concrete French urn looks perfectly happy planted with ferns on the granite countertop of the outdoor kitchen.  The one trunk of a trio of katsura trees planted at least 40 years ago is a great companion to this urn.  A very mature landscape that is thoughtfully looked after is such a pleasure. 

The terrace has lots of handmade Italian pots, and a rowdy mix of furniture and ornament.  The boxwood at the right in this picture- visible is just one section of an old snail shaped spiral. This brief visit delighted me.  It may not be front page news, but there are gardeners  shouldering the load of growing, weeding, maintaining, pruning, renovating and nurturing their small part of the natural world.   

I own my house, and everything in it.  I own my car, my businesses, and my watch.  But I am only a steward of the land on which my house sits.  Stewardship is vastly different than ownership.   I have a responsibility to care for the land, the trees, my environment-any natural phenomena within my reach.  I know other gardeners with the same attitude.  Anyone who understand that ownership is a largely irrelevant notion, given a serious interaction with nature, has the potential to be a great gardener.  My client MM-she is a great gardener.