Image
image
image
image

 

(Continued)

     

I recently observed a similar space when, two weeks after Harland passed away, I visited Lipan Point on the east rim of the Grand Canyon. Sitting on this rocky promontory that juts out over the Grand Canyon, I compared the awesome effect of the canyon to the more intimate safety of this little natural garden, so reminiscent of Harland's garden in El Cerrito -- swirling space, lichen-covered rocks forming natural mounds, pleasing planes, wonderful plants, dark and light contrasts, a stunning, distant vista.

Harland Hand and Marjory Harris, Sebastopol, 1996

 

How Harland would have loved Lipan Point --- perhaps he had been there, I do not know. But I felt his presence at that moment. To him the garden was a sanctuary in nature, a part of nature in which we can feel safe and connected to the whole of nature, without being subjected to the dangers of nature. After his trip to the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where he experienced tribal people's need for shelters, trails, and lookouts, he frequently spoke of the need for Western people to include these features in our gardens, for the emotional power they lend to the landscape. At that moment, looking out at the Grand Canyon, all of Harland's teachings came together in my mind, and I felt his enduring presence.

Harland embodied a sense of wonderment, of joy in discovery and problem solving. When he created his gardens, there emerged the artist, the poet, the little boy, the adult who was both practical and spiritual. He put to the task everything he had or could grasp for, and his reach was long and persuasive. Harland was closely connected to limitless landscapes both external and internal. I told Harland that his garden was a "cosmic launching pad," and he had smiled. He did not like to talk about mystical things, but certainly he felt awe when he observed vast expanses of nature or works of art. He loved to think deeply about certain subjects, particularly man in relation to nature.

But gardens were not the only way in which Harland expressed his creativity. He painted, wrote poetry, taught others to think and create. He was the soul of generosity, always willing to share plants, thoughts on garden design, art, nature, philosophy, and politics. He was never bored. When he lay dying, having been told by his doctor that he only had at the most a few more days, he was eager to explore the experience of death. It was another adventure in a lifetime of adventures. He had trekked in mountainous jungles in Papua New Guinea and Meso-America, explored the ruins of classical Greece, survived the trenches of the Battle of the Bulge. For 76 years he had consciously examined the senses, emotions, and intellect. He had lived a full life, and he was not afraid of death. After all, as he often said, "It is all part of nature."

The End

 

 


Web Author: Marjory Harris  Photographs by Marjory Harris unless otherwise noted
Copyright
2007 by Marjory Harris  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


image
image