Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When we name a place as many gardens and estates have been named, we not only lay claim to the work we do there but we extend our claim far into the future.  In New England, where I live, it is routine for a farmstead to be referred to by the name of a previous owner.  The current owner may even have to wait out their lifetime in order to have their place referred to by their name.   Family estates and large gardens often take on names ranging from whimsical to mythic.
Naming is an organizational tool.  A name like ‘Sunny Acres’ needs its fields to be kept mowed.  Dalton’s End’ better be private.  Single words have even more power. ‘Eden’ has a tradition to live up to.  ‘Serendipity’ begs to be let go a little.  Any name will place its influence on the developing landscape.   
Places within a garden can be named too.  I have named parts of gardens, ‘The Forgotten Garden’ for instance.  The name reminds me to allow the grass and plants a freer range of expression.  In this garden, the grass goes uncut, the rose sprawls, even a dead limb from the tree is left to imbue the space with forgotten-ness.  The bench has been purposely entwined with wisteria vines so that they may take over the support of the bench when the wood slats eventually give out.
'The Meditation Garden' likewise is at the farthest point removed from traffic and includes moving water, that most pleasant of all sounds. The names we give our place or our gardens need never be public. If they are well-given and well-attended to, anyone chancing upon the place will intuit the purpose and perhaps even guess the name.

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