How often do we come upon a natural place and say that it is like a garden. We recognize some organizing force that has thinned the trees, placed the stones, and brings focus to the scattering of wildflowers. Farther along, on a stone ledge we come upon a simpler garden. A fissure in the rock contains sky-blue flowers all in a line. From somewhere below, water strikes high notes as it falls.
If all natural places were equal to our senses, we would have no guide when we set about making a garden for ourselves. Nature offers us models of balance and harmony as well as ones of change and chaos. Natural gardens teach us about natural harmony and give us clues about the harmony that we seek for ourselves. Our attraction to similar settings is a good first step in developing a garden vocabulary. However the fluency that will create an eloquent garden requires that we reach beyond our preferences. Noticing the multitude of garden forms that nature sets before us is one of the pleasures of human existence.