How a Garden Can Teach You To Be More Creative

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“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”  ~ Author Unknown

Gardening is a seasonal thing.  There are tasks to do in every season, but Summer tasks can’t be easily undertaken in Winter and Winter tasks aren’t so suited to the Spring.

What does this have to do with creativity you may ask?

Why, my dear friend, everything!  Creativity has its seasons too, and once you begin to understand that you don’t need to fight against nature, you can begin to work with flow and rhythm. All creative projects follow a similar path to the seasons.  Recognising what season you’re in is the first step!

Winter

Winter is the time for rest.  It’s a dark, quiet place with the occasional storm or blizzard. But it’s from the darkness that our ideas come.  Winter is not a doing time. It’s a thinking time, a planning time, a snuggling up under the doona with a book time. You can’t force anything to grow in Winter, but it doesn’t stop you dreaming about Spring, or the harvest you’ll make come Summer.

If you are in a cold hard place creatively then treat yourself kindly.  Don’t panic.  The seasons always change. And as they do, you’ll change with them.  In the meantime, go clean out your kitchen cupboards or have a cup of tea and flick through a garden catalogue to inspire you. If inspiration does strike, well it’s fine to buy a few packets of seed, attend a class on composting, or sketch out some designs. But don’t even try to plant anything.  The garden’s not ready yet and anything you plant won’t survive and thrive in such inhospitable conditions.

Ice on a barren winter garden.

Ice on a barren winter garden. Time for dreaming, planning and getting ready for Spring.

Spring

Spring is work time!  It’s the season for setting out solid foundations. You set out your beds, dig some good compost through them, and plant out all your tender seedlings. If you only have a loose plan so far, Spring is the time where we firm up the details.  It’s also where we get the supplies we need if we didn’t take care of that in Winter. Good ideas are like those tender seedlings – they need special care.  There are some good ideas about that here: Protecting a Good Idea.

Every day or so you’ll need to come back to your garden and do some work; fertilising, weeding, watering, trailing tendrils of climbers up the trellis you have created for them.  You’ll be able to enjoy some early harvest, but mostly Spring is about setting a solid foundation for what’s to come. Get into good gardening habits. and keep learning and practicing!

Getting your garden beds ready to plant out for Spring!

There’s work to be done! Getting your garden beds ready to plant out for Spring…

Summer

A Summer garden provides a bountiful harvest.  Everything grows quickly and easily, although vigorous plants may need extra staking, and you’ll still be doing the usual jobs – feeding, weeding, tending, watering.

Some of your produce may need to be rejected or written off – a bug might get into your tomato, or a bird might eat all of your figs.  That’s the nature of gardens – they are never 100% perfection.  Gardens are always a work in progress.

The crop you had high hopes for might fail to thrive, but the butter beans you poked into the soil as an afterthought might take off in spectacular fashion providing you with never-ending buckets of delight.  Share your harvest and enjoy!

So much to harvest! Image from www.getintogardening.co.uk

So much to harvest! Image from www.getintogardening.co.uk

Autumn

In Autumn we collect seed and put it away for next spring.  There are different jobs to do now.  We’re still tending our vegetable patch, and there is still harvest, but we are spending more time mending, tidying and getting the most out of our crops. We bottle and put away produce to keep us going through winter. It’s also where we review what worked and what didn’t and what we’ll do differently next time.

Autumn is a season where we may call in some help. You might let the chooks into the garden to eat up all the slugs and grasshoppers.  You’ll start pulling out the failing plants, and a neighbour may come with a rotary hoe to churn the old plants back into the soul, nourishing your beds for next spring. You might thumb through some books to find out why your beets rotted in the ground, and how you can prevent that next time, or whether you should even be planting beets at all. You’ll feed and mulch and look after that soil so it’s ready for another productive year.

Letting the chooks (chickens for you non-Australians) into the end of season Autumn Garden.

Letting the chooks (chickens for you non-Australians) into the end of season Autumn Garden.

Creativity, like gardening, has its seasons.  Of course, you could be like some modern manufacturers and grow all your tomatoes in a hot house at maximum yield year round. That’s very productive, I’ll give you that.  But I bet you won’t be able to taste the Summer sun in those fruit, or the tang of a late frost. Seasons give their own magic to gardens and to art.  Bless ♥ xx

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PS: This post is part of my 2013 Creative Challenge Project.  If you’d like to read more, visit these posts:

Join my 2013 Creative Project Challenge

Creative Project Challenge – February Check In

Lost your Creative Mojo?

When the Muse vanishes – thoughts on the loss of Creativity

21 thoughts on “How a Garden Can Teach You To Be More Creative

  1. Beautiful pictures! I am about to become a country girl for the first time in my (Uh…) 39 years. While we converted our back yard into a city garden, I am looking forward to designing a large garden and adding a manageable group of animals on our new hobby farm. I’m going to have to look at your other posts. I hope you have info on solar power as we are looking into the south facing heat wall (not sure if that’s the correct term).

    • Maggie, that’s such exciting news. There is not much more rewarding, to my mind, than a garden! You know, I haven’t posted much technical stuff on gardening, or solar, or sustainable living, but it’s a big part of our lives, so I promise to write some for you, including on our adventures with strawbale building, which we are currently planning some more of , down here at our ‘new’ farm. Thanks for stopping by. Much love, Nicole xx

  2. Hi Nicole! I love this posting! Would you consent to letting us publish it in our spring issue of Celebrate Home Magazine? Our spring issue is going to be chock full of gardening-related features and crafts and I think your post would make a great essay. I can add some photos from my own archives if you don’t have any original shots to accompany (that is, if you will let us reprint it!). Let me know and if you’d like to see the latest issue, pleas go to my blog (http://www.cindydyer.wordpress.com). There are several posts that have the link to our winter issue where you can download the digital file free! Hope to hear from you soon!

    • Hi Nicole—fantastic! If you have high resolution images you can send to me (if any of the ones in the posting are yours, we can use them with your permission), then I’ll see if they work out. I can supplement with my own photos where needed. Can you e-mail me at dyerdesign@aol.com?

  3. Thank you Nicole. It is true that the garden teaches me how to treat myself and my creativity . I am nature. What a good idea to compare it. This winter I felt I had to wait before I let my ideas come out. Even when I tried to let them come out there were circomstances that blocked it. I am thankful I had to cancel it. Now I know in spring my ideas can blossom.
    I experienced the elephant too. I recognize the ideas trampled down when they are a germ. I will be more attentive to let my little plants grow.
    Much love, thank you thank you thank you my dear friend, 😀 Jetske

  4. I would absolutely love to have a garden! Unfortunately, that’s not always that easy in the city. There are a lot of community gardens around me that you can volunteer to cultivate. This year, I should finally get off my duff and do it!

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