Inspiration, Carolyn Singer and a Fresh Start

May 7, 2013

There’s a saying – “Gold is Where You Find It”  to this I would add that inspiration is where you find it too.  I’ve just recently had the pleasure of picking up a copy of Carolyn Singer’s new book “The Seasoned Gardener” and it reminded me of why I fell in love with gardening in the first place.  I think that for many of us going from being a gardener in your own landscape and entering the world of being a landscape contractor, designer or architect changes the way we view what we’re doing.  After all, once you start making a living by installing landscapes the ugly head of ‘cash flow’ is raised and along with it the realizations of timelines, payroll, insurance – you know the drill.  It can rip the magic out of what we got into it for the first place.the seasoned gardener

That is why this book is so refreshing – it’s more like sitting down and having a conversation than reading a book.  And this is a conversation – it’s a compilation of around 5 decades of garden writings and observations.  Starting in January Carolyn walks us through the year – what’s growing, what needs mulching, when to sow seed and when to prune.  Is it a regional book – absolutely.  She has gardened in the Sierra Nevada foothills for 40+ years and the information, advice and viewpoint is for us right here in the Mother Load.

So, why did it inspire me and why did I decide to write an article about it (notice I say “article” not blog.  FYI: I hate the words blog and blogging – I think they’re stupid! – there I said it!)  It brought home the joy of watching a new plant grow from seed, it reminded me of the pleasure of digging in rich, organic, good smelling soil and it brought back memories from when I wasn’t always having to chase the almighty dollar at the expense of the plants I was installing.  Gardening is and always should be a connection with the earth.  Whether it be growing your own vegetables or cut flowers for the dining room table.

I’ve found inspiration in many things – watching the documentary by Ken Burns on Frank Lloyd Wright reminds me that you’re never too old to succeed – Wright was 70 when his practice boomed again and he kept right on going until his death at 93 – talk about never giving up and always looking to grow.  I get inspired when I walk in the mountains by myself and am surrounded by the beauty of nature – how blue a sky really is – the sound of creeks and rivers spilling over boulders – the contrast of granite rock against snow.  Where and why a plant grows in this one place but not across the path.  I learn from these experiences and it invigorates me and makes me anxious to get back into the craft of designing and the enjoyment of teaching.   Something inspires you too – I know that.  And sometimes we’re surprised by what does get us moving again.  Pull the blinders off and start to see what you’re looking at, you never know where it will lead.

So what is the fresh start I mention in the title?  It’s just exactly what you been reading.  I’ve tried writing articles and I’ll tell you it’s tough!  And the reason was, with a few exceptions, I wasn’t inspired.  I’ve finally figured out that I am going to be posting articles much more regularly and I’m going to write about stuff that I’m excited about – stuff I want to share and that I think is important.  I’ll be answering questions that I’ve been asking myself and that clients and students have asked me over the years.  I’ll be exploring and documenting Spring as it climbs the mountains from here at 2,000 ft. up to the top of Castle Peak at about 9,000 ft.  Why do native plants grow where they do and if we’re going to work with them in our gardens we really should have an understanding of what they need to survive and thrive.  What’s the big deal regarding water efficiency and why it really does matter – do you know what watershed you live in?  This stuff is important and I’m going to start delving into it.  I hope you’ll come along with me on this and please – leave a comment once in a while – I’d like to know what you think and if anyone is listening.

See you in a couple of days!


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