這篇取自紐約時報。它報導華盛頓北邊Puget 海峡（Puget Sound）某島之一英國式庭園和養樹園、苗圃（nursery）。園丁為Mary Fisher，她在1986年受父親和姐姐之資助，訪問英倫三島之園藝三周，受到很深的影響。標題中whiff的意思 :A minute trace: “Humanity is unregenerable and hates the language of conformity, since conformity has a whiff of the inhuman about it” (Anthony Burgess).
In the Garden
On a Northwest Island, a Whiff of England
YOU have to drive through the woods on a sandy road to get to Cultus Bay Nursery. Then the road opens out into a flat, sunny pasture, where Scottish Highland cattle graze and sheep crop the grass beneath espaliered apple trees.
It looks as if England has landed around an old Victorian farmhouse. Boxwoods nestle against the front porch, and lavender borders the walkway to the house. There are tall hedges, dividing this flat land into intimate rooms, vines tumbling over arbors and doorways.
This is the home and the nursery of Mary Fisher, who grew up moving up and down the East Coast. Maybe it takes an Easterner to have the guts to build an English garden on an island in the Puget Sound. It’s so traditional, it feels radical.
It was a three-week tour of gardens in England, Scotland and Wales, in 1986, that imprinted Ms. Fisher with hedges, old roses and training more than one vine to an arbor. Her sister, Nancy McCabe, the garden designer, based in Falls Village, Conn., had arranged the trip, and even called their father to pay for the plane tickets.
“She said, ‘Dad, Mary has a good eye, but she needs to see great gardens and good nurseries,’ ” Ms. Fisher recalled. “She said, ‘You need to buy her a plane ticket and I’ll pay the hotel bills.’ ”
So off they went, to Gravetye, Great Dixter and Powis Castle. They drank Nescafé in Scotland with Mary McMurtrie, the wildflower painter and nurserywoman, who died in 2003 at 101. They sipped sherry in England with Penelope Hobhouse at Tintinhull, whose combination of clipped boxwood balls, lavender and Nicotiana langsdorffii — a tobacco plant with drooping lime-green flowers — was a revelation to the young American.
“I loved the chartreuse and purple, so I came home and got some nicotiana seeds and planted them,” Ms. Fisher said, standing by her own boxwood walk. “It grew to five feet instead of two! So I had to move it to the vegetable garden.”
As soon as she knew she was going to create a nursery here, “I realized I wanted to set it up like the ones I went to in England,” Ms. Fisher said, standing by a massive mixed border that separates the front yard from the nursery, which meanders, in a maze of garden rooms north of the house. These geometric enclosures are as ancient as the first walls that kept the wild animals out, she said, and the proportions are as deeply encoded as the golden ratio, the formula defining many patterns in nature, such as the measurements of a sunflower or a human body.
“And I’m from the East, so I wanted an old house,” she said, nodding toward the wide porch and gabled roofs. In fact, her husband, Tom, a fisherman-turned-carpenter, built this “old” house in 1984, when the family moved here from Alaska, where they had homesteaded for 10 years. “We had renovated one house up there, so he didn’t want to do another one,” she said.
They had loved the life there, but their daughter, Leah, then 5, fell in love with the violin. “And there were no Suzuki lessons in Alaska,” Ms. Fisher said. Nor were there any of the cultural amenities that they missed.
So they bought land on a cove on Cultus Bay, and raised their three children here. Mr. Fisher built the house out of Douglas fir and Western red cedar, so it breathes the spirit of the Pacific Northwest. So do these hedges.
“I wanted to use traditional hedging material, like English box and yew, but in short areas, because these are hard to find and expensive,” Ms. Fisher said. “Then I used native hemlock and fir so people could see that they could actually make gardens here without spending a lot of money.”
I was enchanted by this American version of an English garden. Perhaps that’s because Ms. Fisher, who was a textile major at the California College of Arts and Crafts, in Oakland, has such good eye for color and texture, like planting yellow boxleaf honeysuckles (Lonicera nitida Baggesen’s Gold), twiggy shrubs full of tiny gold leaves, among the soft green English boxwoods against the porch. Or maybe it’s because she knows that Astilbe chinensis Pumila, a ground-cover type astilbe with pink plumes, would look smashing planted beneath Hydrangea aspera Macrophylla, whose enormous violet flowers also bloom late, in August.
“It’s so awesome that they have the exact same coloration,” Ms. Fisher said, as we stood in the dappled light of her lath house, where rare hydrangeas thrive among hellebores I had never seen before, like Silver Lace, which has green flowers and silver leaves; and a western bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa Aurora, which has fern-like foliage and white locket-flowers.
Though she has no horticulture degree, Ms. Fisher studied with Daniel Hinkley in the 1980s, when the botanist-explorer was starting his famous nursery, Heronswood, which has since been sold, on the Skagit Peninsula. Many of his first plant introductions found their way into her gardens, just as her fragrant old roses, like Madame Hardy and Tuscany Superb, given to Mr. Hinkley in a bouquet, rooted themselves in his.
This nursery is like a little village of cozy old structures covered with plants. A golden hops vine scrambles over the lath house, a slatted shade house that was built by Mr. Fisher, of course, out of Western red cedar. Jasmine, intertwined with a yellow honeysuckle vine, called Graham Thomas, covers half the little porch to the potting shed; by the door, the swirling silver seed heads of Clematis macropetala, an early-blooming deep purple clematis, are interwoven with a silver-veined creeper (Parthenocissus henryana), which like its cousin, Virginia creeper, will turn scarlet in the fall.
“But if you grow it in too much sun, it will lose its silver veins,” Ms. Fisher said.
Then she handed me a jar of red jam, which she had made from the bright red fruit of Cornus mas, the Cornelian cherry, a graceful shrub that turns into a haze of yellow when its tiny flowers open in February. The fruit, which ripens by September, makes an intensely flavored, tart jam, reminiscent of beach plums or damsons.
Back at home, as I spread another spoonful on my second piece of toast, I made a mental note to plant one, and to get the recipe from Ms. Fisher.