Garden of Essential Needs

According to the old English proverb, necessity is the mother of invention, and that is never truer than in my tiny courtyard.

One thing I’ve learned is a garden is never finished – it’s always a work in progress. While some gardens can expand outwards, my courtyard walls exclude this possibility.

So that left me exploring other possibilities. I’ve taken to the trees! Not literally of course, age and loss of swinging ability prevents it. But I have hung pots from branches, and bound epiphytic plants in old stockings filled with bark to the trunks and crooks of my trees. It works beautifully. Mind you, I only have two trees so that too, is a finite growing space.

selection of epiphytic plants in the tree crook

And then my need grew again. I developed an itch for new plants I could no more ignore than my need for food.

In the time of Corona Virus there’s a lot said about ‘need’. Endless talk of ‘essential services’ – those things we really need to survive. Feeling a little chastened by the fact that I have everything I essentially need – and more, I resolved to count my blessings. Yet, here I am still talking about ‘needing’ more plants.

But I digress. My point is this: need makes us more creative. Need stretches our imaginations when we’re motivated by what we see as a lack of those essentials.

While I was imagining more space by hanging lined baskets filled with plants from gates, by hooking to fences wire grills into which I could press bromeliads, others too, were busy.

To fill the gaps in essential supplies, industrial designers and backyard inventors were turning their skills to building low cost ventilators; gin distilleries were re-tooling to make sanitiser; small manufacturers were forgoing usual outputs to make personal protective equipment. I am so proud of Aussie ingenuity. However, I’m not suggesting ingenuity is confined to Aussies; I think it’s innate in the human condition, when a need we see as essential presents itself.

But like any successful garden, ingenuity needs the right conditions to flourish. A sense of working together toward a common purpose for the good of all, is a crucial element in this. Gratitude to those who are putting the needs of others before their own is another; everyone needs positive feedback. Leadership is paramount and sometimes it arrives in unexpected forms. Again, where there is a lack (a need), people continue to step up filling leadership voids.

Among the good things to emerge from all this I believe, is the growth of human ingenuity. I know I’m not the only one that thinks we have it in spades.

We have this history of impossible solutions to insoluble problems.

Will Eisne
Dancing Ladies Orchid hanging from a wire grid on the fence (Oncidium)

You have to, in some ways, trust in the human spirit and in human ingenuity.

Ariel Garten

17 responses to “Garden of Essential Needs

  1. Your wire grid on the fence has inspired me! I think that finding ways of hanging plants like that would be a great way for me to display tender plants for the summer..hmmm, now what can I use… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Necessity really is the mother of creative impulses and endeavors. Like you, I have all the essentials, yet I yearn for more — more ferns and geraniums (bought those yesterday), more herbs to inhabit the newly opened up spaces in the potager (bought those, too, and planted yesterday), more contact with real people (did that yesterday at Cowiche Creek Nursery, all of us wearing our masks, of course). I have yet to plant the baskets hanging from the bench arbor; I’m waiting until it’s warm enough for petunias with fillers and trailers like lobelia and vinca vines. Do I NEED those? Not really, but the herb garden does. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh Jo, you’ve been busy. I haven’t ventured out yet. My daughter has been doing my shopping so with the benefit of FaceTime I can peruse virtually at least. You must send photos of your labours.


  3. What interesting and creative ways you have found to enhance your already pretty courtyard garden. I was looking at metal trellis the other day as a way to get some more climbers to cover my fences. And there is of course that old method of removing plants that don’t really do much for the garden and replacing them with something that does. Not looking at anything in particular…🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gardeners can find all kinds of excuses to get plants. It’s strange how changes I thought essential last season suddenly become obsolete the following season then must be updated. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree Robyn, that we find out what is a ‘need’ and what is a ‘want’, in these sort of times, but that we also manage to find a way to meet those needs in unexpected ways – and with great generosity in many cases.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your garden ingenuity and intuition is marvellous, Robyn! I have a stack of books to read so am not in need of more but because I love books, I find I’m collecting more (second-hand ones mostly), especially since our library might not open this summer.


Leave a Reply

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.