Friday, December 19, 2008

Garden Views: Rekindling an Old Flame

I’ve been writing a series of posts for novice gardeners about the process of creating, or revitalizing, a garden (see In doing so, I’ve fallen in love all over again with working on my own garden.

Having to think through the steps in order to explain them to would-be gardeners has forced me to consciously attend to them, rather than whizzing through what now comes automatically to me.

I felt all warm and fuzzy as I described the ideal conditions for dreaming a garden into existence. But I also realized how much of that esoteric experience I had missed lately. I’m looking forward to a cup of cider to warm my hands, a fire in the fireplace, a fuzzy throw to snuggle under, a pile of books and magazines to stimulate ideas, and notebooks or sketchbooks to capture my thoughts.

I had to pull my own bubble diagrams out of the drawer in order to explain how to draw one and what it should contain. They reminded me how much I had already accomplished, but that there was still much to do. It was satisfying to realize that the space was actually working as it had been intended --- dogs here, dining there, seeds and water for birds, and flowers pretty much anywhere something else isn’t happening.

I started itching to stretch the garden out past the fence and get out my landscape template to sketch in plants and colors.

Drawing is not my strong suit, but I’ve always loved the varied textures of art papers, colored pencils, and tubes of paint. Bubble diagrams and landscape designs are not high art, but they provide the opportunity for me to dabble and play with these media without any pressure to produce something beautiful, or saleable. After all, these are only maps to show me the way to my own idea of buried treasure --- painting with plants.

We all need to slow down a little and sink into some of the sensory, mental, and emotional pleasures that we associate with our art. Those are the built-in rewards of our work.

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. Lois is seeking a publisher for her book, The Transformational Power of Gardening. Visit her blog at

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