It takes a special kind of faith in, and hope for, the future, to start a project that is so long term that only your descendants will see the benefits.
The patrons of the Victorian plant hunters were such people. Last week, I visited Bodnant Gardens in North Wales, which had been established in the late Victorian era, and subsequently tended by five generations of the same family.
There are acres and acres of the Gardens, from formal rose gardens and a delightful golden Laburnum Arch (which we were in perfect time to see) to the Dell, planted in the 1890s and now home to magnificent trees, reaching over a hundred feet into the sky. There are groves of rhododendrons, all the colours of the rainbow - some so bright that they look almost artificial, as though they had been coloured by a child's felt tipped pens, and some so delicate that their beauty took my breath away.
Maintaining these beautiful Gardens is now the job of the National Trust in Wales, and they do a bang-up job. It was a lovely sunny day, and there were a lot of people visiting, but the Gardens were big enough to absorb us all without feeling crowded.
Visiting Bodnant was a very special experience. I gave thanks frequently for the natural, yet human-planned beauty all around me. I marvelled at the faith of that Victorian gentleman, who had a vision for the future, who planted saplings that are now great trees. Some now question the credentials of the Victorian plant hunters, yet I couldn't help being grateful for the opportunity of seeing so many exotic and beautiful shrubs and trees, from all over the world, which otherwise I could never have seen in my lifetime.