52. Emulating Nature
You Can Go Too Far In Emulating Nature
From the Wall St. Journal
The 18th century English gardeners Ian McHarg admires abandoned the formal garden for informal plantings that emulated nature. They tried to induce in the viewer an agreeable sense of melancholy, melancholy being in vogue just then.
Thus William Kent (1685-1748) "followed nature even in her faults" a contemporary wrote. He planted dead trees among the live ones.
A more spectacular contrivance was his Hermit's Cave. Surrounded by a dark and gloomy thicket, fashioned of rough loges and roots, the hut waited at the end of a narrow path. Inside sat the hermit, a local wretch hired for the purpose.
"Unfortunately, the privations were too great." a historian records, "and the hermit, who would have provided an interesting object for a morning's walk, returned to the world at the end of three weeks."