6 Things I Learned About Writing From Gardening

But I don’t know anything about roses…

As we head into fall here in the northwest, it’s perhaps an odd time for a post about gardening. But I made a fascinating discovery recently. About a rose bush. I was never a big rose fan because, well, thorns. (and lets not get into the thorns on the blackberries that run rampant here and threaten to take over everything–I have scars from fighting them back) I also had always thought they were finicky. There was one rose bush at my house, and it was there when we bought it, a light yellow rose with a lovely fragrance. I appreciated it, took them inside to perfume the air, and our relationship pretty much ended there. Since I obviously knew nothing about roses, I otherwise pretty much ignored it. It flourished. On the perpetually windy, salt-air laden side of my house, it flourished. A light went on in my head. This brings me to…

Lesson 1Never assume you know what you don’t know. Do your homework.

Then one day I bought this tiny rose bush in a 6″ pot simply because I liked the color of the flower in the picture on the tag. There were no flowers on the plant itself, and I had no way of knowing if A)it would actually bloom and B)if the flower would look anything like the picture–it could have been tagged wrong, after all. It sat in that little pot for quite some time out on my front porch. I would walk by it and wonder “Why did you buy a rose bush?” Finally out of guilt–not, I confess, over the plight of the neglected plant, but over the money I’d spent on it–I replanted it in the biggest pot I had handy. That was two years ago. Today,it’s grown into what you see in the first picture here.

Lesson 2:  Sometimes you just have to have faith that things will turn out and plunge ahead.

The first year, this rose got so huge it started taking over the sidewalk it was next to. I had to prune it way back. Wrestled with the thorns, wishing I had a pair of gloves that could stand up to rose thorns and at least take a swipe at blackberry thorns. Bloody but unbowed, I finally got it done. And the next spring it exploded into what you see here.

Lesson 3: Edits and revisions can be bloody hell, but in the end, they’re usually worth it.

This year, while duplicating the pruning of the year before, I inadvertently cut a stem with a lovely little bud on the end, looking just about to open. On impulse, I stripped the lower leaves off and stuck it in ground in the planter, thinking it might at least last long enough for the bud to open. It looked something like this.

What can it hurt to try?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, it looks like this:

How did THAT happen??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 4: Never throw away those little buds of ideas, because they might grow into something beautiful.

Early this spring, I bought an artichoke plant. With about as much knowledge about it as the rose. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Except this time I did know my neighbor had two that actually produced many luscious ‘chokes. Again the little pot sat neglected for a while, because I didn’t know quite where to put it to replicate my neighbors successful location. Since it was in even a tinier
pot, I knew I had to do something, even temporarily, so again I grabbed the biggest planter I had handy and plopped it in. And as is frequent with impulse buys, I then belatedly talked to my neighbor and was told artichokes don’t generally produce the first year. I was fine with that; it’s a not-unattractive plant anyway. And yet….

So much for “You can’t do that!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 5: Just because they say you can’t doesn’t mean you have to listen.

You might notice in that picture that there is a second, tiny artichoke just adjacent to the big one. The first got big enough to be harvested and actually eaten. And behind it, the second one began to grow even faster.

All I needed was some room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 6: Never hesitate to use it all up on the story you’re working on now. There will be more behind it, ready to grow and harvest.

These obviously aren’t all the things I needed to know. That never ends. The learning never stops, or shouldn’t. And on some level, I already knew these six, but I’ve been at this a long time, and sometimes it’s good to go back and visit the basics, lest I forget.

So now, in these last days of sunshine and growing, I’m going to go outside and dig in the dirt.

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3 thoughts on “6 Things I Learned About Writing From Gardening

  1. Trish Jensen says:

    JJ: If you ever get inundated by your artichokes, you are SO WELCOME to wing some my way. I won’t mind at all. Isn’t it amazing when you start with a bud of an idea and end up when a blooming great book! Like your unintentional green thumb. Loved the blog.

    • Thanks, Trish! I was stealing from my neighbor (well, not really, I mow their grass so they say take whatever I want, they can’t keep up) but I just wanted to see if I could do it. If I find myself swimming in them, I’ll ship a box to you. 😉 But I do love it when something sparks, stops me dead in my tracks, and the “I could use that,” starts.

  2. […] is just one activity on the creative continuum. 6 Things I Learned about Writing from Gardening by RWA Hall of Fame Writer Justine Dare […]

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