I figured out last week why I can never quite appreciate gardens that are imitations of Northwest woodlands - the huge stumps, boulders, moss, ferns. One such garden (beautifully done, so much work...) won the big prize at last year's Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
We hiked at Whistler last week, and hours spent in those vast forests made me realize it's the scale that is inimitable- it's only alongside a rushing river, or beneath a canopy of native conifers, as part of the multi-layered forest floor, that the nurse logs, sword ferns and woodpecker snags are so perfectly at home.
You can submerge yourself in the forests at Whistler, human scale is ridiculously small here, bringing home your own insignificance to the scene. The slanting autumn sun penetrating through the trees patterns the trails, footfalls are muffled by the duff of the forest floor, birdsong and the rustle of creatures create a primeval feel. Your senses are lulled by the hush, yet alert because of all the signs warning of black bears.
It's not that we can't or shouldn't incorporate some forest details into our gardens- a mossy boulder or a bird-beak studded spar. But the overall scene is best left to nature to craft over eons, and for us to soak up and meditate upon as we're reminded of our human fraility compared with grandeur all around us.
Wildlands in the U.S. are threatened by the Republican platform in the upcoming election. If you doubt Romney's intentions toward our publicly held lands, our joint heritage and hope for the future, read Timothy Egan's Opinionator Blog "The Geography of Nope" in the New York Times. Truly scary stuff.
Last week was my first visit to Whistler - why did I wait so long? The gondolas and chair lifts cascade down Blackcomb and Whistler peaks right into Whistler Village, a striking new Aboriginal museum holds pride of place, and there are crazy young mountain bikers everywhere - it's quite a scene. The rings in Olympic Square stir the heart. And the hiking trails are numerous, well marked, well groomed and almost empty now between Whistler's main seasons of activity.
Autumnal color was kicking in last week - from the birches and vine maples to carpets of bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) shading red amidst the moss.
Dying down, new life, decay, renewal...the forest reveals its constant evolution....
Sunshine and a lagoon, aqua blue from glacier snow melt....