“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.
Grow Write Guild Prompt #2: Describe your fantasy garden.
We all have fantasy gardens that play somewhere in our thoughts, but how often do we stop and put that fantasy to paper? I don’t. Sure, there have been times when I have visited a garden that made me sit up and take note. There have been times when I have walked into a space and felt like I could move in and be happy there forever. But when it comes to the realities of gardening there are always so many limitations and practicalities to consider… the climate, the size of the space, the environment, the food that I need to grow, the amount of work that I can reasonably take on, other uses for what is already limited space, and of course, always, always, always at the foreground: the impairment of a very limited budget.
Perhaps, too, there is something else that gets in the way of fully imagining what my own personal Versailles might be. I wonder if there is also in there somewhere the fear that imagining something so unattainable will lead to an unbearable sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction with my very real garden?
“I shall never have the garden I have in mind, but that for me is the joy of it; certain things can never be realized and so all the more reason to attempt them. A garden, no matter how good it is, must never completely satisfy.” – from My Garden (Book) by Jamaica Kincaid
And then I found these lines and it made me realize that we gardeners are always striving for that fantasy, whether we are conscious of it or not. So why not wonder aloud? Maybe it will help us come to interesting choices this gardening season and we will find ourselves taking new and surprising directions.
Further Questions & Notes:
I tried to write further questions and notes this time around, but ultimately found that they all, in some way, introduced practicalities into the equation. This prompt isn’t about the practical at all, although you are free to bring that into it if you want. Instead, when it comes to imagining your fantasy garden, try not to hold back or limit yourself. This exercise has nothing to do with how much money you have, where you live now, or real life. It’s pure fantasy. This is the garden that you would make if you could do ANYTHING.