Fling Visit To The Ruth Bancroft Garden
Let us meditate upon gardeners who give their gardens to the public. Pure determination in dirty gloves. Let us meditate upon their gardens.
Descanso is one of those (on a grand scale!). There is Lotusland in Santa Barbara; Rancho Los Alamitos, the Hortense Miller garden in Laguna Beach is a local example. The Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek is one as well.
I discount the Huntington and the Biltmore--places like that--because those are the estates of plutocrats.
'Mr Ripple' is not a plutocrat:
Let us meditate upon those places donated by hands-on gardeners, not the super-rich.
What special qualities gives those gardens a future after the gardener is gone, or retired?
A certain amount of money, of course--the gardener must be able to afford to give the land, and to possibly create a trust to support it financially in some way, either with her own money or with her charisma, to attract others to join her cause.
The neighborhood must tolerate the additional traffic. Space for parking, so mundane a thing, matters.
Gardens need committed volunteers--to lead tours and pull weeds and raise money.
Seasonal events, like sculpture exhibits and Christmas light walks, help to bring in more visitors than just the plant-nut.
A collection of compelling rarities of the plant world might help. Or that the land was particularly beautiful place, or the home a historic home.
Or that the garden contains plants of such choice rarity in a particular area that they are of interest to those who have never seen such plants.
There should be a large enough population in the area to ensure sufficient visitors and volunteers.
Of course, the garden should be beautiful.
Who starting a garden today will, in forty or fifty years, live to see their life's labor of love become a public treasure?
Which public gardens we know and love today will become in a generation apartment blocks or landfills?
We all know most gardens do not outlive their creators.
So much love, so much work, effort and passion, for such an ephemeral creation.
For to sit on a sunny afternoon and look around.
The plants--at least the genus and species upon our earth, if not the particular specimen--endure far longer than the gardens we set them into.
Sometimes they survive only in gardens.
Sometimes the garden becomes a source of new and innovative varieties, a place for botanists to study or create, to hurry along the evolutionary process.
Perhaps we humans, who think ourselves the masters of this planet, are merely tools plants exploit for their own advancement.
Wouldn't that be funny? The joke would be on us.
Though I cannot think of a more noble Kingdom to serve, than the Kingdom of Plants.