Sometimes, when I look back on the photos I take in my garden, I can hardly believe how much transpires within a single growing season. In the springtime I can see the pathways between beds and most of my plants are just a few inches tall. Everything is exposed. By the end of the growing cycle the garden is a wild, unruly beast. The pathways are devoured by foliage and there is no exposed soil left. How and when did that happen?
“So the days float through my eyes, but still the days seem the same.” -from Changes by David Bowie
It’s amazing when you think about it. Our gardens begin as one thing, and stealthily, silently they transform into something entirely different in just a few months only to start over and transform again, and again and again. Some years, I lose perspective. While I am in the midst of it all, I forget what has transpired. I don’t appreciate the work I have done, and focus instead on what I haven’t done. Sometimes, while knee-deep in the late-season struggle to keep things neat and tidy, I start to take the amazing growth around me for granted — it becomes something to rail against rather than something miraculous to behold.
I want you to appreciate the work you do in your garden. I want you to walk away at the end of the season with a sense of satisfaction regardless of how it went, and a focus on what you have accomplished, rather than on what you haven’t. One way to achieve this is to document and record change. For this reason, we will practice this exercise a few times throughout the growing season, beginning with our gardens as they are now. It will be fun to see how they progress and perhaps even see how our attitudes change with the seasons.
I thought I would talk a bit about tools and process. For me, making these drawing is a mixed emotional and technical exercise. When I began spontaneously drawing these made up birds, I made something of a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be too precious about the tools or paper I used, and that I would give myself permission to draw without judgement or purpose.
A day belated simple blue bird…
The birds I have posted here so far with Gayla’s invitation have been calls for Spring. As of today, while Winter’s legacy does still linger in crusty countryside ditch snowbanks and the occasional flurry of odd styrofoam-like snow pellets, many signs of Spring are happily appearing.
The scents and smells are returning. Even the sometimes fetid first whiff of last year’s decomposing plant matter can be wonderful. Winter can often feel sterile, even dead, with natural smells locked in temporary cryonic freeze. In these early Spring days, with animals and plants reappearing to the delight of our senses, and the air so much easier to draw in to our lungs, we wait even for that first ozone-tinged rain storm. Smells tie us to life and memory so directly.
Make your way outside, breathe as deeply as you can and identify those smells that mean Spring to you.
Birds portrayed in the “Drawing from Nature” series by Davin Risk are purely imaginary — any similarity to true species is entirely accidental.
“Memory is a gardeners real palette; memory as it summons up the past, memory as it shapes the present, memory as it dictates the future.” – from My Garden (Book) by Jamaica Kincaid
Hello writers. Our first writing prompt was meant to jog memory and take us back to our beginnings (or somewhere nearish), back to where we have come from as gardeners. Memory and past experiences have a place of distinction in our gardens. It doesn’t always dictate the outcome, but memory (conscious and unconscious) folds into our gardening practice, building a basis for why and sometimes how we garden, and infecting the many choices that we make.
I considered guiding us further down this path, but in the end decided that it makes more sense to come back to the past intermittently rather than sinking into it all at once.
Instead, with the winter behind our backs (or very nearly in some cases), it is time to look to the future, or at least, the fantasy future that we desire. I don’t know about you, but I’ve just spent several months dreaming about my garden. What will I grow? What changes will I make? Where will this growing season take me? Lately, I’ve been marking up the calendar with plant sale dates and anticipating all of the new plants I will be bringing home in the next few months. I have enough springtimes behind me now to know how it will play out. Some plants will be planned for, but others will be the product of pure impulse and spontaneous desire. I think of these as Id plants. “OH, I must have that!”
Sometimes these Id plants come home and take me and my garden in new directions. Other times they are a disaster (and a predictable one) because they are in direct conflict with the practicalities of the real garden that I have. But sometimes in these spontaneous choices lies the key to something that I need. Something that I have not brought into conscious thought.
Happy Friday! Say hello to another brashly tinted bird staring steadfast into the crocus-hued days of Spring. This week’s bird comes by the way of the dollar store. Looking at my friend Aaron’s sketchbook I asked him about some bright (bright!) washes of colour he had laid down and was shocked to hear he had painted them with bingo daubers! I knew I had to get some and make a bird with them as soon as I could.