gardening and creativity



After a very slow week in the garden in which I basically spent all my time poking around, yanking mushrooms, repotting plants with drenched soil, and pruning away dead leaves (oh, summer- you can be brutal on the poor plants!) I read this and it reminded me again why I garden:

Gardening is a creative act, yet a different experience than art-making. It’s a kind of collaboration with nature, where the gardener and nature can meet each other halfway.” – Justin Richel

It’s from a book called “Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artists” and it’s not the first time I have read about full-time artists and writers turning to gardening for a creative escape from life in the studio. Apparently, gardening is a very common passion of creative people.

I think there’s something about the collaborative nature of it- you do your part, Mother Nature does hers, and what literally grows from that collaboration is really kind of magical.

I get so much from being in the garden every day, even when I’m just keeping things going and it doesn’t feel like much is happening, like in the summer months. It’s being part of something much bigger than myself, in a way. And that relieves a lot of pressure.

Gardening is one of the few things I do where I’m not subconsciously worried about what the outcome may be or how it looks to other people or if it will be successful on a broader scale. Very few people see my garden (it’s on the back of my house, inside a screened in lanai). Almost no one benefits from it. But it’s a fairly big, grand thing (100 containers and always growing, which *is* pretty big for a container garden on a little patch of pavers) and more than 1,000 hours of my life and energy and time and love and pure passion.

Even when the chips are down (ie summer), it still makes me happier than a lot of other things in life, and more often than not, it makes me happier than making art, which is a HUGE thing to realize. I think because there’s no pressure involved in it, no one else to please or try and appeal to. It’s just me and the dirt and the plants and the seeds. I put in my time and energy and the next day I come out and something new is there to greet me.

It’s a pretty rewarding and fair exchange, when you think about it. Very little in a creative life is like that- usually you toil away at many things and maybe, if you are lucky, something “hits” and it does well. But in the garden… if you toil away, it’s almost ALWAYS “hits”. Where else can you find odds like that in a creative life?

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