On editing a garden . . . or a novel

As I ate my lunch today, seated on the high veranda overlooking my garden and the forest at back, it occurred to me that creating a garden is also similar to writing a short story or a novel.

Basically, I throw everything into a novel and in a short story I take everything out. Simple?

My garden has several sections of varying nature: far down near the back fence I planted many trees and bushes, and after watering them over the first summer, I told them, You’re on your own now. This area of very tall trees and shrubs has to be a novel. It was reasonably well planned, apart from one huge tree that I allowed to self-sow and which surprises me with its height. I am happy with my group of she-oaks (casuarinas) and their needle leaves which whistle in the wind, rather like a musical section (think: The Midnight Pianist).

The lemon-scented gum (eucalyptus citriodora) which I planted 4 years ago is now way taller than my house and still going Up. Considering its height as I ate my sandwiches, I wondered at the etymology of ‘gum tree’. Anyone know? Titles for stories and novels can be hard to figure out. Sometimes a title arrives, Boom, that’s it, and at other times it’s difficult. Ho hum, best go for a walk . . .

The middle section of my garden is very untidy. This section needs serious editing. It is definitely full of short stories which can be periodically culled if they don’t prove successful. I’m not good at throwing plants away, so there is wild confusion here and there, but it’s generally very entertaining.

The front garden facing the street is rather like a novella. Neither a short story nor a novel, plants come and go according to their life span, regardless of my decisions. Sometimes I cut adventurous plants back with the shears, but they enjoy this and throw brilliant green leaves back at me, rather like unexpected ideas.

The stairs from my veranda to the back garden definitely comprise a poem or two. I planted climbing ‘star jasmine’ at the base, and now the railings are covered in new emerald-green leaves which eventually will hold masses of sweet-smelling white flowers – the perfume will drift into the house, quite sublime. A sonnet, perhaps?

So there you have it . . . how I see our creative urge. Whichever direction it takes, it always leads us somewhere, if we allow it time to develop, and when we look at the result and decide that perhaps it works . . . that’s where contentment lies, and the seeds for every new work of art that follows.

 

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