Gardening is Like Writing

I’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of writers, plotters and pantsters. Plotters outline, so before they sit down to write, they know exactly what they are going to say. Pantsters write by the seat of their pants, so when they sit down to write, they never know what they are going to say.

Me? I’m neither. I start with an idea, then add another idea, and keep adding ideas until I know where I am going to begin and where I am going to end. The middle part is a matter of finding ways to connect all my disparate ideas, so by the time the book is written, the story seems inevitable, as if had been written by a plotter.

As it turns out, I garden the same way. I started with a few lilac suckers from a neighbor’s lilac bush. At the time, I just planted them more or less at random because there was no order to the yard. The fence that was here at the beginning of my tenure enclosed only a small part of the back yard, which to me was a selling point because I didn’t want a huge yard to take care of. Between the fence and the alley was a carport, and next to the carport was a decrepit garage.

I had no plans for anything back then except to shore up the garage, but eventually a sibling talked me into fencing the property, which turned out to be a great idea, even though I ended up with a huge yard. The fence adds a modicum of safety, from marauding dogs if nothing else, and it defines the property. Eventually, old garage and carport were removed and a new garage built.

And during all these projects, I added a few more bushes. Then other plants. Then the pathways. Then the grass. Now I am filling in the gaps in the landscaping, and suddenly, the yard looks inevitable, as if it had been gardened by a plotter.

The truth is, I did everything wrong. The hardscaping is supposed to be done first before the first greenery is planted, but in my case, the hardscaping grew along with landscaping. And I planted by trial and error, which is a gardening faux pax, even though that’s how I do everything. (I’ve heard there are two kinds of geniuses — the early bloomers who are born super intelligent, and the late bloomers who learn a sort of genius through trial and error. I still have a long way to go to reach genius status, but through trial and error, I might get there someday.)

I suppose with gardening, like writing, rules don’t matter as long as what you do works and you end up with cohesive plot, whether a novel plot or a garden plot.

I will be interested to see what it all looks like next spring, though as long as nothing major occurs to destroy the grass and plants, it should be beautiful.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

5 Responses to “Gardening is Like Writing”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    Pat I feel there’s anything wrong. Same with your writing.
    I have written already I will write back again for you.
    “We must cultivate our garden”, says Candide to Pangloss at the end of the famous philosophical tale Candide or the Optimist; Voltaire specifies that the Garden of Eden was not created for man to find rest but for him to work there, to exercise his talent.
    This expression comes from the work of Voltaire “Candide”. For the author, this meant putting aside metaphysical problems and dealing with those that can be solved. The meaning has evolved.!i

  2. Estragon Says:

    Maybe because I’m neither gardener or writer, I think the essence of life (including and maybe especially genius) is trial and error. Expecting a plan to emerge fully formed and perfect in the first instance strikes me as conceit or hubris, especially if the plan involves other living things.

  3. marymwik Says:

    Nice piece Bertram. my love and passion for gardening keeps me locked here.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: