Most people who pass through the Medicinal Herb Garden do not make it across the street (Stevens Way) to the garden’s fruit forest. There’s no sign and it is surrounded by hedges and tall trees.
Center of fruit forest from the north (minus two large goumi bushes that have a new home at the Beacon Food Forest)
The plants have gradually filled in and started bearing fruit since I first cleared brush and began planting in 2000. Luckily, representatives of most of the plants in the fruit forest can be grown, here and there, on the outer borders of the Medicinal Herb Garden across the street, because the fruit forest will face the bulldozer in the coming months, to make room for a new building. The university is constantly adding new buildings and replacing outdated buildings. We all accept and understand this truth around here, yet there’s no avoiding a period of mourning when a place you love is about to disappear.
grapes (Vitis vinifera)
Sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum piperitum)
woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Years ago I read that there is now a name, coined by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, for this type of mourning. It’s called solastalgia.
Though it is probably a more fitting term for the experiences of the people of southern Appalachia, facing the horrors of mountaintop mining, or the citizens of Kiribati or Tuvalu, about to be displaced from their paridisiacal island homes by rising sea levels, solastalgia describes a psychic state of dislocation and disorientation caused by physical dispossession. A sense of place is an integral part of our identity as humans. So, when a place we are connected to disappears, even a relatively small oasis like the fruit forest, feeling a bit of sadness is inevitable. The trick to remaining sane is to move forward and create new oases. There is always a marginal place that can be transformed. Keep your eyes on the borders of the Medicinal Herb Garden for these coming transformations.
sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Italian prune plums (Prunus domestica)
black mulberry (Morus nigra)
Many of the smaller shrubs have already been relocated in the Medicinal Herb Garden. But the fruit forest space has a combination of solitude, quiet, shade in the lower part and sun in the upper, circular design, blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), paw paws (Asimina triloba), plums (Prunus spp.), raspberries (Rubus idaeus), honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea), goumis (Eleagnus multiflora), Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa), Sichuan pepper bushes (Zanthoxylum piperitum), black currants (Ribes nigrum), mulberries (Morus nigra), giant black walnut tree (Juglans nigra), grapes (Vitis vinifera), hardy kiwis (Actinidia arguta), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), honeybee (Apis mellifica) hives and wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca). That combination will be hard to reproduce.
black currant (Ribes nigrum)
raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) At the north entrance/exit of the fruit forest, you rub past two lemon verbena shrubs, catching just a hint of their refreshing scent on your clothes as you come and go.
Still, there is new inspiration to be drawn from this loss. The west side of the Chemistry Building’s south lawn has some excellent features. I’ve already started expanding into it and hope to add more plants during the dormant season. The same goes for the lawn between Benson Hall and Cascara Circle. Since January, I’ve planted blueberries , honeyberries, goumis, paw paws , prune plums, cherry prinsepia (Prinsepia sinensis), Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) and woodland strawberries. More to come.
New fruit forest border, northwest of Cascara Circle
New fruit forest border, west of Cascara Circle
Fruit forest, we’ll miss you, but your spirit will live on across the street.
who records it all
the rolling list of losses
memory hold fast
See you in the garden.