Right now the spring wildflowers are blooming in a generous gifting of color and scent; both the variety of species blooming and the quantity is just stunning. The Indian Bloodroot and triliums have passed, but there are jack-in-the-pulpit aplenty and more things on the way.
At some time, the classic English garden became the pinnacle and epitome of what gardening was meant to be. An "English Garden" defined 'garden.' And countless amateur gardeners have strived over countless decades to emulate and express that particular style, with varying degrees of skill and success. Constrained by space, time and budget—constraints not necessarily shared by the estate gardeners of ages past (who labored within a wholly different world of constraints) contemporary gardeners aspire and more often than not, fall short of that aspiration.
But history shows a different relationship between model and result, between pattern and product. The classic English gardens of the era we strive so badly to emulate were ebullient (and somewhat pallid) efforts to recreate...the wildflowers of Virginia. The early explorers of the mid-Atlantic were avid amateur naturalists, and worked tirelessly to collect new specimens of plants to return to England.
So I stand and look at the wildflowers with a newfound appreciation of what we have right here in our back yard. To manipulate Virginia's natural landscapes in an effort to recreate the English styles we are so fond of is "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet...add another hue Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish..."