It occurred to me the other day that gardening is the only art form I can think of that works in four dimensions–that is, the usual three, plus time. Time shapes the garden and completes it; it also, in the end, destroys it. A gardener has to be aware of what the passage of time will mean to the developing garden. (Is the kolkwitzia going to swamp the magnolia? How long before the beech hedge matures?) Most of us, I suspect, would prefer not to think too much about the destruction part.
Maybe we shouldn’t despair. Given the proper degree of enthusiasm (and sufficient funds), even seriously neglected gardens can be resurrected. They need not necessarily vanish in a maze of brush and saplings, or be overplanted with shopping centers. In some cases–rare enough, I admit–they can throw a challenge in the teeth of time and show themselves in something like their original splendor of two or three hundred years before. (more…)