Staying Open to Change in the Creative Process

By Jesse Eastman

As I outlined in last month’s newsletter, we are in the midst of a major construction project that will add roughly 5,000 square feet of covered retail space, will expand our greenhouse significantly, and will provide us with a brand new propagation space. If you’ve ever been involved in a home renovation or new construction project, you probably already know what I am now learning: some of your best ideas don’t come about during the initial planning stages. Instead, they pop into your mind as you watch the project develop. If you’re open to deviating from the plan, you might just end up with something even better than what you set out to accomplish.

As we encounter various reasons to modify our own construction plan, I’ve been thinking about how this compares to landscape projects. Winter is the time for dreaming, for planning, for ideas and preparation. Now is when we browse landscaping websites looking for plants and designs that pique our interest. Now is when we determine whether this is the year we install a new patio and whether it will be surrounded by lawn or by flower beds. We draw up plans, develop budgets, carefully craft timelines, and then tuck all that away while we wait for spring or summer to put the whole thing into motion.

But that’s not where the plan stops. Maybe you take a trip to visit family next month, and while you’re there, you see a pond in their landscape and decide that needs to be incorporated into your yard. Maybe you attend one of our Winter Workshops and learn about some new plants to include in your design. Maybe you see a landscape in dream that upends everything. So it’s back to the drawing board. You probably don’t toss everything out the window, but when you revisit your plan, new concepts take root and work their way in.

Now it’s time to install. You pull the plan out again and dive in, but even with all the planning, all the revisions, your vision is still morphing, developing, changing shape to fit the reality that is right here, right now. In spite of your love for how perfect that pond is in your relative’s yard, you realize now that even though it will fit in your yard, it will make things a little more cramped than you like, so you ditch the pond and opt for a fountain. By cutting the pond, you’ve got leftover budget and decide to buy a bigger tree than you had planned for, enjoying more immediate shade while the rest of your landscape fills in. You improvise, you adapt, you overcome.

This process of vision and revision is what can make a good plan turn out far better than your expectations. Too often, we fall in love with our own ideas, and even if it turns out we were missing a crucial piece of information when we made our plans, we stick to them instead of being open to all the good that changing our minds can bring. Yes, it’s important to maintain the heart of your plan, but you’ll be amazed at what you discover if you let the ideas flow and maintain objectivity throughout the whole process.

At the Nursery, we’re still building our space out and it’s still the same size purpose as originally planned. However, there are so many small details, perhaps even imperceptible to someone not involved in the process, that have changed and will continue to change, and these details are the things that will result in a finished project that outshines its original concept in ways we never could have imagined.

As you explore and plan your own projects for 2019, I hope you’ll have as much fun as I have entertaining the random fleeting thoughts that cross your path on the way to completion – they may be the best ideas you have, if only you can allow them to join you on your adventure!

Originally published on January 3rd, 2019. Updated on September 3rd, 2019.