Hello Fellow Readers,
I believe all of us can live creatively however we choose to express it. But along with creativity comes vulnerability. Certainly, there’s something intimate about sharing one’s creative self. But creativity in the garden offers a safe space. A forgiving place to dabble as we grow and learn that outcomes are not truly in our control. Yes, we choose plants based on their attributes we find appealing that fit our cultural environment such as planting zone, light, and soil pH. Like any artist, we create a palette of colors and textures. We plan carefully for a sequence of blooms, an assortment of foliage and plant heights for a pleasing year-round display. Hopefully we serve as stewards of the environment and provide a place for pollinators and other wildlife. Even so, there are always variables.
We frustrate over Bambi, Peter Rabbit, and relatives of Punxsutawney Phil whose prediction for six more weeks of winter has technically ended. Yet there’s tons of snow covering spring bulbs that sprouted early due to warm days soon after the legendary groundhog saw his shadow. Thankfully plants are resilient. They will adjust. And we, as garden artists and dig in the dirt enthusiast, sit patiently contemplating what will come of the early sprouts. It’s the preamble of a new beginning. A new season. And art in the garden has a mind of its own. Just as creativity allows a space for surprises and mistakes which become lessons. Life lessons for those willing to listen. The magic begins with letting go and allowing the gift of what grows in the world around us just be.
In pursuit of creating a podcast version of our weekly chats (Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries), I’ve become a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast Magic Lessons; an offshoot of her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It turns out Liz Gilbert is speaking at Warren County Community College in Washington NJ on April 19th about Big Magic being used across curriculums. “There is irony in how this project is called Common Experience, as it is a special, uncommon experience to be able to hear authors such as Liz Gilbert in person right here in Warren County,” explained BJ Ward Professor of English. Though as curator of the Visiting Author Series funded by the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Ward has attracted many notable authors including Pulitzer Prize winners and National Book Award recipients. When asked how he recruits such headliners BJ replied, “Excellence begets excellence,” not bragging about himself; yet if you indulge in his books you’ll see why he’s the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for Poetry amongst many other accolades. BJ Ward, native to Warren County, chose to remain here to share his gift of teaching creativity. I cherish his kind autograph in my copy of his latest book Jackleg Opera:
“For Mary Stone – who knows wisdom has dirty hands – So good to meet you! BJ”
Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com
About Elizabeth Gilbert’s April 19, 2017 visit to Warren County Community College, Washington NJ: All are invited to this two-part free event (first come first serve) which begins at 4 PM in room E208 with an hour-long interview and Q&A. At 7:30 PM Elizabeth Gilbert will read selections of Big Magic followed by Q&A from the audience. Books will be available for purchase.
As the crow flies this magical landscape of moss appears like a forest of trees nestled atop a rock ledge; the lichen are pools of water with a cloud of snow above. When I was a girl, I’d gather moss and other forest floor treasures to create terrariums with miniature twig homes and magical gardens that trolls would visit in the night while I was sleeping. Seems Liz Gilbert shares a fascination with moss. Her recent novel, The Signature of All Things, features a 19th century woman botanist named Alma Whittaker who delves into the study of moss. I’ve learned Liz is also an avid gardener. I wonder if she ever created terrariums for trolls too. Then again, it’s never too late to be a big kid :^)