There’s an extremely serious discussion going on at my place right now.  At issue is whether or not I go to the trouble of setting up a large water feature on the deck and create tropical madness for future August dinner parties.

 

It was lovely, lush and tropical, but I'm itching for something slightly different this year.

It was lovely, lush and tropical, but I’m itching for something slightly different this year.

 

My husband is pro.  I am con.  Though he loves the lush result, it would not be unjust to remark that his fondness for the thing is heightened by his complete lack of involvement in its set up.

Though my reasons are varied (and do of course include the hours of assembly), I have realized that my ambivalence really centers around one thing in particular: I’m bored with the idea of putting the same thing in the same place for the same result.  Because you see, it’s boring.

Yesterday I made the mistake of trying to explain this train of thought to my husband.

“But the result is cool.” He said, looking at me sideways. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it before.”

“But it’s boring.  It’s what I always do.”

“Are you going to change me out?”  was the next [obvious] question. “After all, I’ve been around awhile.”

“I’m thinking about it.”

He didn’t skip a beat, sure he was on to something.

“Do you like strawberries?”

I just stared at him, knowing what was coming, powerless to stop it.

“Well why would you continue liking them?  You’ve had them before. They’re boring.”

He went on in this vein, ridiculously pleased with himself – even talking from another room at one point – until my coffee grew cold and I finished the conversation I was silently and simultaneously having with myself on the same topic.

Is boredom a valid reason? Well, if one looks at the garden as a work of art, and oneself as an artist (however much of a stretch that may be), doing the same thing out there every year is tantamount to being employed as a reproduction artist in a Thomas Kinkade studio.

After hand-retouching the 265th copy of “Cottage by Candlelight” it must be extremely tempting to paint the odd thatched roof in a different shade of taupe to keep from losing one’s mind.

‘Permanent’ garden plantings, by their very nature, change from year to year.  They grow, thrive, ramble, wither, die, and manage to keep us excited and involved by this process every season.  We are enthralled by the potential of our plants, and if they fail, the potential of others.  The garden is not static.

 

Sometimes, our most creative work is permanent, but the garden continues to grow and change around it.

Sometimes our most creative work is permanent, but the garden continues to grow and change around it – keeping it fresh and new. This gardener in Atlanta, Georgia used cast off branches to create something unique and wonderful.

 

However, when it comes to the temporary parts of our garden – the bedding plants, the tropicals and temperennials…the garden ornamentation that gets schlepped in and out of garages and sheds every year – many of us feel a distinct and dreadful sense of déjà vu, as we wearily set up the ‘look’ that worked last year…or the year before…or for the last ten years.

In the last 16 years, this strawberry pot has held everything from strawberries to succulents, served as a bird bath and lain empty for a season or two.

In the last 16 years, this strawberry pot has held everything from strawberries to succulents, served as a bird bath and lain empty for a season or two.

Why? The creative part of the equation has dulled, and the gardener-artist, always chasing a creative high, isn’t particularly motivated to set it up again.

There’s no art there, it’s just another day at the Kinkade studio.

What if you’re scared to change something that once worked? Go on, trust yourself. If you did it once, you can do it again.

He who dares wins.

And we certainly know when a gardener is being daring. When you visit someone else’s garden a few times and still come away feeling inspired, the chances are that the resident gardener is continually harnessing the artist’s spirit somewhere in their garden, not content to literally rest on his or her laurels.

I certainly don’t want to rest on mine.  I’ll be using that beautiful ceramic water bowl this year, but not necessarily on the deck, and not necessarily with any plants.

Maybe I’ll even dig it into a bed, or turn it into an extra-large succulent garden. Just knowing there are options is what keeps this particular gardener going.

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This article reprinted with the kind permission of The Frederick News Post.

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