The ornamental gardens had been a work in progress for well over a century.

They covered nearly a hundred acres, far larger than any such garden of any of Adriane Galvin's peers. They had been begun with the fence, which had turned into a wall, which had turned into a very nice but very tall ornamental wall-with-fence; after that, the gardens had slowly blossomed out from the manor at the front center of the property, rather, as Adriane liked to say, like a flower unfolding from a bud.

They were now almost complete. She had been hiring people to work on the gardens since the very first days -- masons and stone-workers, brick-layers and gardeners, arborists and tilers and sculptors. Sometimes, a particular profession was harder to find than others. Sometimes, she had to make do with what labor she could find. There was a period of about ten or twenty years where she could find any material she wanted, as long as she was willing to pay laborers to pull it off of buildings, but finding anything new was tricky and finding skilled labor was almost impossible.

Adriane learned later, over tea, that there had been a team of every known stonemason, bricklayer, and related trade working to build a wall around the nearby town -- to keep out dragons, of all things -- and that every plant-knowledgeable person had been press-ganged into food production.

If she had been slightly more aware of the outside world, the world that was not her ornamental garden, Adriane would have been proud of her foresight for the greenhouses full of exotic plants, many of them food- and spice-bearing. She might have been very proud, too, of the three vegetable gardens and the grapevines, the former creating a lovely walking area by the kitchen and the second arboring a creative reflection area by the parlour; of the fruit trees that were so easy to have shaped into creative shapes; of the nut trees which had been such a pain but which kept providing nuts year after year; of the deer she had inadvertently trapped with her wall, the generations of rabbits grown fat on leftovers, the turkeys which were nearly as decorative as the peacocks which hadn't survived.

As it was, Adriane simply changed her method of paying people and continued to put out very tidy notices:

Now hiring stonemason.

Now hiring landscaper.

Now hiring huntsman.

When her garden was very complete, she put out one more notice:

Now hiring garden hermit.

All of her friends gardens had sported the nicest ornamental hermits. She hadn't been to visit any of those in a while, of course -- maybe a few decades? She'd lost track while she was working on the hedge maze to the north. But there was the perfect place for a hermit to the south.

Room, board, and stipend provided.

Adriane was quite surprised at the number of applicants she received.