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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – January 12

As the snow swirled outside today I spent some concentrated time on my novel. I wrote from ten AM to 4 PM with quick breaks for lunch and stoking the woodstove. As usual, some of the ways the story developed were absolute surprises to me. I didn’t plan that turn of events in advance…as I write the characters have taken on a life of their own.

This is just like gardening. I think that most gardeners will agree that there comes a point when the garden, that community of plants you put in place, takes on a life of its own. Some things die (unplanned) and others thrive against all odds. Self-seeded plants move in (also unplanned) or something we’ve thought was dead and gone years ago suddenly makes a comeback.

Then there are the native plants (sometimes known as weeds) and the changes made by resident wildlife or spouses. The garden evolves as it will and we gardeners balance going with the flow and applying a controlling hand.

My mother, who has always been very artistic, told me once that when she was young she would frequently create something that her younger brother would destroy. She told me, “My mother would say, ‘Oh, Janice, just make another one,’ and I’d try to explain to her that I couldn’t duplicate it.” My mother knew that the creation had taken on a life of its own, and contained an element of magic, serendipity, or spontaneous invention that couldn’t be forced.

All of life is about creation and we strive to be wise enough to know when to plant, when to edit, and when to stand back and let things grow on their own.

The side yard in my last garden periodically needed editing because the plants self-seeded and spread at will. Still, even when it was in need of a bit more of my controlling hand, as in this photo, the way it developed on its own pleased me.

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