One of the most enjoyable side projects I undertook in 2023 was to create a native garden in my front patch. The goal was to establish a space for natives, flowering plants with a few herbs, a compost bin and a safe protected place for small reptiles.
It started with removing the top 10 cm of really poor and undernourished topsoil and adding compost , loads of cow and chicken manure and wet newspaper that broke down to into fiber.
The replanting started with existing pot plants, then anything I could get my hands on. I had a small budget so I added to the collection with $5 plants, cuttings, plants from house blocks that were bring knocked down etc. Hint- many nurseries have an area dedicated to plants that need love and are at bargain prices.
I had a May 2023 deadline as I wanted plants to have at least 4 weeks to acclimatise before winter set in.
So now in November the plants are flowering, attracting butterflies, bugs but no bees at this stage. I hope the invertebrates will attract the lizards but none spotted yet.
I despair that bees and pollinators are not visible and we know they're diminishing – disease, climate change, pesticides, so it was important to include flowering plants (even if they are non-native) to attract them.
But I digress, what’s this got to do with creativity? There’s so much evidence that being outdoors in nature is good for creative problem solving and our mental health.
I’m also keen to demonstrate how side projects, of whatever size and commitment, help us focus and create interesting problem solving journey’s as we consider everything that implementation requires. Plus they are fun.
I also recognise the benefits of ‘being in the moment’ that gardens enable, as creating a garden has allowed me to express gratitude. I’m thankful to have this little patch of wonder, as it changes it reminds me to go with the seasonal flow. Gratitude as a means of perspective, gratitude as a gift and gratitude as an attitude.
As I write this blog and take these photos I notice a single bee. That makes me smile.
Researcher, Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people with a control assignment of writing about early memories.
When their assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention.
See previous blog posts on the benefits of nature and creativity