The Nation: The Plastic Garden

Out of the fertil ground he caus'd

to grow All trees of noblest kind for sight,

smell, taste.

—Paradise Lost

Gardening has made considerable advances since Eden. In the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest, for example, Mr. and Mrs. James Cummings of Renton, Wash., own a $33,000 house that sits amidst a profusion of huckleberry, juniper and salal. Conveniently, nearly every blade of grass, every twig and leaf is made of plastic or some other synthetic.

"We both work," explains Cummings, a riveter for the Boeing Co. "And neither of us has a green thumb." For $3,500, the Cummingses had a versatile landscaper install a...