I thought about this when I took my little after-work stroll around the gardens on Friday. Everything’s looking so pretty, color and texture already changing. Then I got to one of my favorite spots, what I think of as a little faerie garden.
I literally stopped dead, stunned speechless.
During my earlier workout, I’d heard Pancho
barking incessantly–and yelled out a few times for him to knock it off. I didn’t think much of it–until I saw my dragon wing begonias, my pretty mini fuchsias, some of the yellow bells and foxglove had been trampled on, and many broken.
It didn’t take much for me to get the picture. Some critter had wandered in, and the dogs had gone wild. Now if a deer passes by, they generally just lie there, maybe give it a glance. I hear them thinking: Okay, it’s bigger than us, we’ll just stay where we are. But a raccoon or possum, that’s fair game.
And the games must’ve been vigorous.
A moment–okay longer than a moment–of heartbreak, and a stern talking to given to the dogs.
While I’d planned a quick trip to the nursery for Saturday, it was for a couple of specific things to fill particular gaps–and didn’t include fixing up that section. Now it would. After I gathered up some of the broken plants–sticking them in water on the faint hope they might shoot some roots–I scribbled down a short list of what I’d need.
Saturday’s trip took longer, and well, there I am in the middle of all those gorgeous plants, so four and a half flats later, I come home. I’ll also confess, I had to make myself stop. So tempting to get more–and somehow I’ll always find room. But enough already.
BW isn’t home today, but will be pleased I only have a single plant I want him to do–pretty big hole needed, and in a tricky spot.
I’ll do the rest.
As I’m setting them out, getting a visual, switching them around, next visual, I realize I never have any real plan when I garden. I have a basic concept I may or may not follow.
That’s just the way I write. Huh.
Both are jobs and joys for me, and I approach both in a way I’ll call organic. Let’s start here and see what happens. After the first draft in a book, I’m going to need to start from the beginning again, start weeding what doesn’t belong, prune out what needs to go. Maybe I have to move what I thought should go here to there.
I’ll need that third pass in a book, doing all the fussy work, making sure this is the best I can do, making sure it all holds together.
Gardening’s the same with my process.
There are going to be gaps that need filling. More color, more texture, maybe a different angle. My nasturtium seeds have only sprouted two little plants. I think about this, move one carefully and plant it with the other.
In its place I fill in with mini fuchsias (I bought far too many for the faerie garden anyway), and some wishbone flowers (not on my list, but too sweet to resist) that should spill nicely over the wall.
Not what I’d intended, but it works. It works really well, and I think, that’s just how it should look. Readjusting with a story is the same. You go where it works.
Water, compost, conversation. You want a strong story, you want strong plants–and I want to be intimately connected to both.
It’s marvelous to watch things bloom, in a story, in a garden–whether it all blooms the way you anticipated at the start, and even more so when it blooms its own unexpected way.
You’re going to get sweaty and tired–and there can be some disasters–having both my hard drive and backup crash simultaneously years back, costing me an entire chapter isn’t so different than seeing a pretty, thriving section of my gardens trampled by a couple of enthusiastic dogs. There I had to go back,reconstruct–and tell myself, as I am with my faerie garden, it’ll only be better for it eventually.
With a book, it’s going to end. You’ll have done the best you could with the story, and you’ll move on. A garden is a constant work in progress. But for me, getting there is pretty much the same.