Everyone was gone. The piles were gone. The stumps were gone. The workers were gone. We were alone with the land. We had no idea of what to do next. How, for instance, does one incorporate root mounds into a garden?
Haltingly, we took charge, or perhaps the garden took charge of us. One thing we surely knew: the garden had a history now and Isabel’s visit would be a part of it.
We ditched any thoughts of doing away with the root mounds. That would require a lot of chopping and digging, much too much work.
They are certainly unusual, we said. You wouldn’t find them in just any old garden.
You know, garden books say that every garden needs structure to be truly grand They call it bones, or hardscape. Like an ancient oak, or grand statuary, or great walls. Well, we said, The Great Root Mounds could be our bones. Won’t they make grand bones! (A furtive eye-roll.)
Trouble was, these bones were ugly. We decided to camouflage them with fast-growing, tough vines that bloomed lavishly: sweet autumn clematis, confederate jasmine, and Japanese wisteria, plants we had propagated, plants you couldn’t kill.
The vines did not take kindly to being incarcerated in cracker-dry peaty soil. They wilted and threatened a laydown strike, citing wretched working conditions. Of course, with our usual astuteness we immediately recognized the potential for a crisis, so we did what was necessary.
We bribed the strikers with liberal helpings of compost with extra water for overtime growing. There were occasional instances of passive aggression, but no outright mutinies, and the vines finally managed some respectable growth. They never became candidates for magazine covers, but their scrambles over The Great Root Mounds delighted visitors for some years.
One of the Great Root Mounds had prominent cavities at its base that promised a network of interior tunnels. Hmm..mm. We had recently rescued two of the seven dwarfs (Happy and Doc?) who had been languishing in a discount shop. We set them to work guarding those tunnels that seemed to lead. . . where? Why, to a diamond mine, of course.
Another of the Great Root Mounds was complicated because a crushed canoe lay within its jurisdiction. With perfect trajectory, Isabel had dropped a huge pine on the canoe we’d moved into the woods for safekeeping. (What were we thinking?)
Couldn’t lift the tree. Couldn’t rescue the canoe. Garden books don’t talk about crushed canoes. However, they do think focal points are important.
What’s a focal point? You know, it’s something people look at, something special, like statuary, or an arbor, or maybe an unusual urn. Something that draws the eye into the garden.
Oh, you mean a nice view. Yes. A vista. A vista that can conjure a vision, a sense of mystery, even a hint of romance.
You think our crushed canoe could do all that?
Yup, the crushed canoe will make a grand focal point. Okay, if you say so, but I have one question. How can a crushed canoe be a focal point when we can hardly see it? Oh, I get it, that’s part of the mystery.
Well, not really. . .
Why don’t we put out some hints along the way, like a sign that says Focal Point Ahead. Or, Extra Chigger Bites if you can Identify the Focal Point.
Well…that’s not quite. . .
We decided that a path might help people find a focal point. It might even keep them from getting bitten by chiggers or breaking their ankles. It took a rototiller, shovels, rakes, muscle-power, lots of sand, and lots of time to clear and level the land. We edged the path with Isabel’s castaway logs, nice touch, we thought.
Still, there was a possibility that people who did not read garden books might not know they should be looking for a focal point as they walked along the path. Or they might not realize that the crushed canoe was the focal point.
So we put a sign on the path. No, the sign did not say anything like Focal Point or Crushed Canoe. It was a classy sign, handcrafted of wood and painted with care. Kind of like a road sign in an upscale development, only smaller. We hung it from a special lamppost with solar lighting so, even in the dark, we could find our focal point.
We called our focal point Canoe Crescent. When we put it up, we weren’t sure which was the focal point, the canoe or the fancy sign.
We were so taken with this sign we added three others: Isabel Alley, Windy Wicket, Tornado Turnabout. They didn’t necessarily mark focal points, but with solar lights and new paths we almost thought we were back in the big city instead of living in an unruly scrabble patch.