Crazy for Trees

Chapter Two: Choices

Oh, the awesome responsibility of making choices when tackling a garden! What land to purchase? Where to start? What is the first cut? The first plant? For sure money and availability are part of all these choices. But there is much more born out of who we are, what we have been, what we long to become. Our very essence formes our choices.

We begin the process, we give birth to the garden, but a whole lot of it happens despite us, emerging, refusing to stop once we've started, carrying us along with it at a glorious and reckless pace.

This chapter describes that emergence, some of the follies and some of the inspirations that forged the birth of my garden as I use it to cross a century. What inspires us in the garden is what inspires us in life. Challenge. Choice. Hope. Memory. The work of others. The beauty and bravery of the world.

To make choices, one must observe, take note, dream, listen. Listen—to the sounds of the forest, to the sounds you want near you. Listen, to the teachings of others, discover their ideas and steal the ones you like.

A page in a book, a whisper of a remembered visit to the gardens of France or a recent visit to a local gem, like Heronswood, all these worked to influence my choices.

And of course, some choices are just there. The sun beckons, a friend accidentally overclears a hemlock bough exposing the trailer next door, lightning smites a thirty foot cedar. And so you repair, rebuild, redream until unexpected and delightful new beauty emerges. You have no real choice about these choices. The garden wields its huge club and you are sent reeling to the far end of the cornfield. Blackberries grow and despite their beauty and the softness of your yielding flesh, you have no choice but to snip and rip and bleed.

The chapter ends with photographs and artist's interpretations of some plant partnering choices which turned out to be gorgeous companions to one another. I feel bold, like a true gardener, to be able to recommend them to the reader. So bold, indeed, and because these plants seem to have fallen in love with one another, that I call this final section, "Mad Coupling".

Sections to Chapter Two


Table of Contents

Location, Location, Location:

Great sword ferns, rich damp earth, a moving stream and the memory of her first pet buried amongst such ferns, such earth, such water, drive a woman to mortgage her house and buy the land for no other purpose than to grow a woodland garden.

Black Berry Purgatory & Stinging Nettle Hell:

Half naked, the morning gardener tips a wheel barrow full of rock and falls bum first into a patch of stinging nettle and has to roll over onto her hands and knees to get up and out.

The Birth of a Theme:

Mistakes, discoveries, hopes and memories merge to weave the tapestry that becomes garden.

Quaking Aspen:

Leaves whisper to a child, to a woman, bridging the century.


Memory guides the gardener's choices.

Visiting Heronswood:

Inspiration found in an Explorer's Garden.

Mad Coupling:

Plants that are meant for one another.

Gardening Books Worth Having:

An annotated list of great books to help you in your choices.

Gardener | HylaCrazy for Trees What's New?

Crazy for Trees: Synopsis  |  Crazy for Trees: Chapter One  |  Crazy for Trees: Chapter Two  |  Crazy for Trees: Chapter Three  |  Crazy for Trees: Chapter Four  |  Crazy for Trees: Chapter Five  | 

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