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The garden: I say those words with a sigh and a whisper. I shout them down the valley and from the top of the mountain. The garden. It has become the focus of each weekend, for the past seven years. How did this thing take such hold? Refuse to let go? And what now, now that it is no longer a dream, but a reality?

When I originally purchased the property it was as a retreat. A place to read and write and think without interruption, without the flurry of phone and fax and e mail that I seem unable to ignore. It was a place where the air was fresh and clean and the view of the ocean inspiring.

It was not a place to garden.

And then one day, as I paused from my writing, I happened to notice a small spruce being twisted to the ground by an anaconda of a blackberry. Ever the rescuer, I went out armed with kitchen scissors and returned bloodied... and defeated.

My first garden purchase: a pair of loppers. As I cleared the blackberry, the stinging nettle, the alder berry, I discovered a host of native ferns growing up the trunk of a huge maple tree. I hadn't even known the bits of perfect green leaves, dark and secret, were there. And then it happened: I imagined a pale pink clematis twining its way up the maple, among the ferns. "Just this spot," I said to my daughter.

"Just this little area. I do have a deadline on the manuscript. I will only tackle this one area."

We both knew it was a lie.

"How long do you think it will take you?" she asked.

"About ten years."

I was right. It was a ten-year project. Now, in year seven, I see the garden coming together as I had imagined it and I feel privileged. I feel engaged. I feel broke. But there isn't a blackberry in sight and I have over 3,000 trees, shrubs and perennials in nineteen integrated garden rooms.

Somehow, on the weekends, pretty much single-handedly, I have created a botanical garden in the middle of the forest.

Once I recognized what the garden was becoming - a real garden - almost three acres of cultivated trees and shrubs and perennials amongst the giant old growth cedars that present both a challenge and a setting to die for, I knew I had to name the garden.

I wanted a name that both invited and defined. HYLA. Tree frog. I loved the sound of the word. I loved the health that frogs signify. And frogs, all name and description of them rule the roost around here. They serenade you during mating season, they sleep in your coffee maker springing out when you go to add fresh water, they enjoy the warmth of your hot tub, crawling under the cover and surprising you when you lift the lid. I love them. Hailey, the cocker, catches them, delivers them to you as all good retrievers should, and out of his mouth they jump, indignant, but totally unharmed.

It was Gary who came up with the name. Gary, botanist, friend, the man brimming with knowledge and creativity, said, "Hyla". Of course. Hyla.

And so it came to be. I commissioned Casey, a local artist, to carve the frogs and name into a giant maple that had been stealing all the sun and nutrients and water from a garden I was struggling to create at the entrance to the property.

Now I can officially welcome you to this garden, it has a sign, it has a name. Welcome, to Hyla. To learn more about Hyla, and its new make over as a B&B Sanctuary, a horse rescue operation, and a Place for Healing, go to Hyla


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