In the Beginning
For those wondering why we’ve developed Troll Knoll the way we have, here’s a background story. Like most of the garden, it’s a conceptual metaphor. It is also a love story that spans decades. The garden was started as a ‘getaway’ for the head troll’s spouse…a place to unwind after a long and sometime stressful day at work. But that is another story.
For just a moment, consider a time long ago. Imagine a rural setting with a narrow road climbing a hill. On that road is an old man, deeply tanned by the years, carrying a canvas and leather backpack. He’s repaired the stitches and replaced its flap over the years. And now he’s walking toward an old estate. He passes the sturdy iron front gate and uses a key to open a smaller one, partially obscured by overgrown shrubbery.
It’s early morning. The original home, long abandoned, has been torn down and a new one has taken its place. It’s much smaller than the old mansion, less obvious to passersby, but still pretentious. Its gardens have mostly survived neglect, and have endured the arrival of new landscaping equipment and owners focused on adding whatever’s new in magazines like “Garden Design” and “Fine Gardening.”
Out of kindness, they’ve ask the old caretaker and gardener what could, and should, be saved. He’s freely shared his advice, gleaned from years of watching plants mature and endure drought and incursions by hungry deer and other animals. And his comments are taken into consideration for the rejuvenation of the landscape. But not always. There are some spots within the garden that are very important to him – memories of early times – but they might be considered interruptions in the grand flow of the new landscape. Some are simply slate pathways, where he’s carefully placed every single stone, others are little rock walls which have braved the years with no cement other than gravity. The grand scale, though, is gone. There is little time for recreating such things.
The Garden Path of Decades
Today is special, though. The old man reaches into his backpack and digs out his time-worn hand pruners. They’re well honed and carefully used. He walks along a path he’s trod for decades, ignoring the weeds that have poked up between stepping stones and the milkweed along its edges and other unkempt areas. Stepping to the side of the path, he focuses on a toyon bush that’s captured his attention since last winter, when a blue jay landed on one of its limbs. Suddenly he was captivated by the sight that included the bird, the red bush, and the snow-capped Sierra in the distance. The vista was one that made him wish he’d had a camera to capture the scene, but a moment later the jay took wing and the scene was one that only his eyes shared. Smiling in reflection, he carefully prunes a few limbs to better provide a framework for a natural painting for the new owners to someday enjoy. His chore is complete. Tired joints aching with age, he draws a deep breath and considers what to do with the rest of the day.