Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The pond at 6:04 a.m.
I've been thinking of my garden as kind of collaboration with nature. My pond, dug this spring, has no liner. It's just a hole in heavy clay. The soil that came from the hole now fills in behind a new dry laid stone wall surrounding the base of the house.
I have thought of this as sustainable garden practice, a collaboration with nature. But is it really? Can one really collaborate with nature? The pond isn't natural; it's man-made, even without a liner. I'm thinking this idea of collaboration is a false concept. What I'm doing is really a kind of battle with nature. Not the kind of chemical-laden battle a farmer does growing a corn monoculture in the American Midwest, but a battle nonetheless. A gentle battle. Nature, or nature's saturated clay in winter, kills monarda; I plant something else. Rudbeckia maxima thrives; I plant more. I can only do what nature allows. Nature bosses me around.
Ian Hamilton Finlay's garden Little Sparta contains many references to war and conflict: images of machine guns, battleships, hand grenades. Up to now, I haven't been able to understand what all the militaristic imagery is about. I think I'm beginning to get the point.
One can try to do no harm, but collaboration is out of the question. Nature is in control, unless we destroy it; and we may succeed.