Endlessly creative, Mother Nature cannot help but inspire anyone who pays close attention to be creative themselves. As gardeners, we naturally pay closer attention to the great outdoors than we would otherwise. While I cannot speak for other gardeners, I know that every moment I spend with my backyard plants gives me energy to use in other creative endeavors.
I was talking to some of my gardening pals the other day about the deeper effects of working in the garden. Some expressed surprise that I found gardening to be enormously creative.
“It’s just digging, planting, and watering,” one friend said. While this is not a bad summary of the way of the gardening world, there is so much more in every step of the process than a simple, routine act. Many factors must be weighed, and choices made along the way, all creative.
For example, planting doesn’t just mean sticking a start in the earth; first comes the process of figuring out what could go where, the exposure, the soil, the other plants in the area. This involves careful attention to the climate, the ecosystem, the soil, as well as making selections from the thousands of possible plants to install.
These garden activities help me build the creative muscles I need as a writer as well. The connection to garden writing is obvious: every lesson my garden teaches me gets funneled into my garden experience.
The inspiration goes further still. I also write novels and sometimes venture into poetry. The careful attention to detail I learn from my garden helps me focus on the tiny subjects that can swell into larger themes in fiction. Even more, the leaps of faith required help me remember that all things are ultimately connected, though at first apparently disparate.
Nature, the Great Teacher
I often take my writing notebook and sit in the garden to jot down ideas. I let my mind drift, then simply write whatever occurs to me without judgment. I feel that doing this lets me tap into my subconscious, access parts of my life experience not perhaps available to my conscious mind.
It is probably no accident that one of the basic motifs in my creative writing is nature, how it reflects the emotions of characters, how it foreshadows future events, or suggests past joy or sorrow. Much of that has its roots in my own little garden.