This is the flood plain of the Delaware River. This small bluff is the first of several as the land rises abruptly to an elevation of about 200 feet above the river. This is where we live, in these heavily wooded hills, in a land of many intermittent streams where water rushes downhill to the river with every rain, every snow.
Turning onto Federal Twist Road from River Road at sunset, I took these shots with my phone camera, as a reminder, imprecise evidence of the landscape in which my garden exists, a part of the natural landscape and yet something entirely artificial and different.
But only artificial in the sense of using artifice to create something new.
And what does natural mean? This landscape isn't natural in any sense of the word. It's a cultural landscape subject to the actions of humankind for centuries. The native Americans may have had a gentler tread, but they used the land and left an imprint too, however light. Colonial agriculture and its successors cleared these woods many times, changing forest to farm and pasture and orchard, building grist mills and saw mills, then the woods returned again, and again. And the river itself was one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution. Today, the heavy deer population is destroying the forest, preventing growth of new forest trees.
So what is natural and what is artificial? We need enlightened management of the land, something we're far from achieving. My artificial garden isn't natural, any more than the wooded landscape is natural, but it's certainly more intentionally managed. So what is natural, and what artificial? The words need to be redefined, and used more mindfully.