Letter from the Director – June 2023

Beyond the Blooming

Each spring and summer, I wait with bated breath for the garden to start bursting into color. I adore flowers. I especially love disorganized, free-spirited gardens. Our Rockvale Garden is a little on the reckless side. I plant new flowers in late spring wherever I can find an empty spot – where a perennial failed to deliver on its promise of returning, or where a winter freeze might have thwarted a small shrub. I want lush, full-bodied, full-color blooms that make my eyes bulge. I don’t necessarily want order. 

I focus on the beauty, the variety, the simplicity of a Gerbera daisy next to the complexity of a red hot poker (Kniphofia). I long for Gladiolas tangled with climbing roses and Echinacea blending with Calla lilies. I celebrate the floral summer, create bouquets of phlox and hydrangea, aster and blossoms from the chaste tree. It is an everyday delight. It feeds my soul. 

But what happens after the blooming, beyond the color, when things wither and fade? Does the garden cease to have purpose? Oh friend, no! I think the flower garden’s main purpose is not in the circus of blooms but in the quiet promise of the seed. Every organism’s focus is on replacing itself through the next generation and the next. Reproducing. Keeping on keeping on. The beauty of the blooms is only necessary to attract pollinators which in turn allow for the formation of seeds. The seed is the ultimate gift of the garden. The blooms are a bonus. 

Now, let’s talk about writing. (You knew this was coming, right?!) I suggest that one purpose for writing is to create beautiful (important, humorous, intelligent, meaningful, thoughtful, touching, instructional, etc., etc.) works of the word. Our gifts with language allow us to plant gardens with sentences and paragraphs and lines. With words. When our gardens bloom, for instance when we finish writing our novel, or publish a chapbook of poems, or secure an agent, we delight in the blossoming of our efforts. But, as lovely a sight as those things can be, I don’t believe the sole purpose of writing is to reach the blooming stage. There’s more, something more important and it has to do with the seed. 

While you work on creative pursuits, everything you do is preparing and programming the next generation of your own growth. If I write a poem, submit it to a journal, and it gets published, that’s a wonderful thing, but if I don’t gather and replant the seeds produced by that effort, I’m wasting something equally as valuable. Gardens aren’t meant to be stagnant and neither are writers. What we create and offer to this world is meant to spread via the seed of experience. It’s meant to continue. 

When you find yourself at the pinnacle of your blooming, think further, think beyond. The bloom is just the start of the wonder. Plant the seed formed from the rich soil of your own experience and let the wonder begin all over again. 

What are you waiting for? Are you ready to bloom? Are you ready to plant the seeds?