In “The Lost Gardens of Heligan,” the story of reclaiming a derelict, centuries old estate in Cornwall, Tim Smit writes:
“A garden is one of the ultimate human conceits and living architecture, perverting the course of nature to human ends. Leave it for a moment and the conceit is revealed for what it is, as the land reverts to nature’s rhythm and imperatives. A gardener is merely putting off the inevitable encroachment of the wild. It is in this that I can sense the real hold that gardens and gardening have on the imagination, with the inexorable rolling pageant of the seasons and all the attendant triumphs and disasters at the hands of nature. The relativity and transience of each success encourages humility.”
And sometimes it is hard to tell the triumphs from the disasters. Out of fondness for it, I want to include columbine here, even though I can’t easily find the columbine in the southwest bed where it was planted. It’s engulfed now by giant stalks of lilies and self-seeded foxglove (“the inevitable encroachment of the wild”).
I’ll find another spot for the columbine – triumph for the lily needn’t be disaster for the lovely columbine.