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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – November 26

Yesterday Lois commented that it seemed like I’ve been gardening “from the inside out for quite a while.” I was immediately taken with her wording. Gardening from the inside out. Hmmmm…

To garden from the inside out would mean starting with the personal or the spiritual I’m thinking. It would mean that the garden comes from the heart. Yes, Lois, that’s what I’m all about…although I have to admit that this wasn’t a conscious decision. Maybe my gardens have guided me in this direction, or perhaps things have just evolved as the person I am has intertwined with the plants I have grown.

As an artist and a writer, this is how I’ve experienced all creative endeavors. You start down a road with a germ of an idea, or a few materials (in the case of the garden, with the plants) and then you walk down a path willing to see where it takes you. Creative projects always take on a life of their own.

I suppose that if you start off from the outside, trying to make something that others will like or approve of, you will have a shorter journey. A landscape that is formed from the outside out would be one where the grass is green, there’s a dwarf Alberta spruce on either side of the front door, and a third evergreen that flanks the ubiquitous Euonymus that’s in the middle. This approach is fine for those who aren’t on a creative path but are just looking to have a standard amount of green around their houses.

Doing anything – your job, being a parent, volunteering in the community, pursuing an avocation or cultivating a garden – is enhanced, and perhaps more likely to be successful, when it’s done from the inside out. As the Guy Clark song goes, “It’s got to come from the heart if you want it to work.”

We gardeners start with some sort of plan, of course. It might just be a few pots of the plants that we fell for on the last trip to the garden center, or it could be an inspiring photo we saw in a magazine or on line. Transforming the plan into reality involves dealing with the problems that will arise...the flat tire on the wheelbarrow, or the ground that is congested with roots, for example. And then there is the weather...but it's best not to go there right now. Coping with the weather is a whole blog post, or a month's worth of blog posts, in itself. When gardening from the inside out, however, these are just small stops along the way. We're willing to deal with those problems or challenges that arise when we're moving from the inside out.

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