“Do you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind? Sure! You can grow ideas in your mind. You can think about things and make believe things and that’s like growing something of your own. You have wonderful ideas. All you have to do is think about them and they’ll grow.”
I’ve been drawn to plants and drawing them.
My wife has sent me several excerpts from The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener’s Companion. They all seem to me to have profound connections to making art and doing creative work.
“The Garden Of The Mind” begins:
Like the love of music, books and pictures, the love of gardens comes with culture and leisure and with the ripening of the home life. The love of gardens, as of every other beautiful and refining thing, must increase to the end of time. More and more must the sympathies enlarge. There must be more points of contact with the world. Life ever becomes richer. Gardening is more than the growing of plants: it is the expression of desire.
“General Advice,” speaks to limitations and constraint, making do with what gifts you have, and loving what shows up:
Every family can have a garden. If there is not a foot of land, there are porches or windows. Wherever there is sunlight, plants may be made to grow; and one plant in a tin can may be a more helpful and inspiring garden to some mind than a whole acre of lawn and flowers may be to another. The satisfaction of a garden does not depend upon the area, nor, happily, upon the cost or rarity of the plants. It depends upon the temper of the person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to cultivate that happy peace of mind which is satisfied with little. He will be happier if he has no rigid and arbitrary ideals, for gardeners are coquettish, particularly with the novice. If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants which thrive chance not to be the ones which he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them. We are apt to covet the things which we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things which grow because they must. A patch of lusty pigweed, growing and crowding in luxuriant abandon, may be a better and more worthy object of affection than a bed of coleuses in which every spark of life and spirit and individuality has been sheared out and suppressed. The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions. Each blossom is worth more than a gold coin as it shimmers in the exuberant sunlight of the growing spring and attracts the bees to its bosom. Little children love the dandelions; why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely. If I were to write a motto over the gate of a garden, I should choose the remark which Socrates made as he saw the luxuries in the market: ‘How much there is in the world that I do not want!’
(Bailey said that paragraph was worth more than a book, and I agree.)
“To One Who Hath No Garden” points out that there is something other than just possessing your own plot:
There are two parts to gardening,—the growing of the plants in the soil, and the garden in the mind. The desire to have a garden comes first; then comes the season of planning, the pleasant discussion of the kinds, the tools, the construction of hotbed and frame, and the layout worked over and over again until the area, the desired products, and the purse are all accommodated and made to fit; finally comes the putting of the plan into execution.
I know persons who are musicians and yet have no musical instruments. Some of them can perform on instruments and some of them cannot. If they are performers, they miss the instruments more. Do not most of us, with high taste for music, secure our satisfaction in it from those more fortunate or more skillful than we?
I know poets who do not write poetry, artists who do not paint, architects who do not build. I know gardeners who do not garden.
It is not for me to depreciate the joy and value of a garden that one makes in the good earth with one’s own hand; yet the garden is an appreciation. It is an appreciation of activity, of color, of form, of ground smells, of wind and rain and sun, of the day and the night, of the things that grow. Good critics of gardens, good lovers of gardens, may yet not be good gardeners; and good growers may not be deep appreciators of gardens.
To the one who has no garden (my sympathy is his!) there still remains some of the essential joys of the garden,—the wonders of the catalogues, the invitation of the soil, the discriminating knowledge of the plants. A garden is only a piece of the world,—a piece that one picks out and arranges for one’s own exercise and pride. Beyond it are others’ gardens, also the open greensward of fields, and the abounding atmosphere. One may sit at another’s garden gate, and feel its beauty; one may wander afield in any afternoon of holiday; one may be open to the suggestion of garden and beauty as one travels back and forth, missing nothing.
(All emphasis mine.)
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