Hello readers. I am both excited and nervous to share a project that I have been working on for the last month or so. It is PITH + VIGOR’s first Garden Design Trends Forecast. I really enjoyed pulling this together so I hope to make this an annual thing. Directions for downloading a copy are at the end of this post, but first I want to share with you some of the journey that has led up to this release.
I am so happy to be able to write this post from a place of clarity and excitement that I have struggled to really feel for much of 2015 (and even 2014 and a bit of 2013). In this quieter time of year, I feel like I am finally emerging from a fog that involved a whole lot of moving and doing and very little (almost none) reflection, intentional growth, and big picture thinking. I’ve passed through a book tour, plenty of speaking engagements, lots of travel, a website re-design, three newspaper publishing deadlines and releases, and countless other lesser but not insignificant accomplishments in the just the last 12 months – plus there was that constant work of full-time mothering two children. And before all that I wrote that book and created another magazine. And yet I often struggle to feel like I am getting anything accomplished.
Somehow, I can look at the list of things that I did and simultaneously feel a sense of pride, but also an even greater sense of emptiness and frustration at the thought that I really haven’t been able to get my head around why I am doing it all, where am I going with all of this, what am I trying to accomplish and what is the point of my work in general?
Asking myself these questions has been tough especially given that this is one of the first times in my life that I have really had to soul search to come up with these answers. For most of my teen and adult life, through many twists and turns, I’ve always had a purposeful trajectory in mind. Forcing myself to this ride a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows in my quest to ‘get clear’ has often times left me gasping for air. I could write on about this for pages and pages, and will share more in time (as I continue to firm up my footings), but for now, I wanted to share with you this report as it one of the first things I have done in quite a while that felt really purposeful. Not something that just happened because I did something else (like write a book) or because I said I would do it, so I did, or that I just had to do because it was staring me in the face demanding to be done. But I did it because it is a step towards achieving a set of goals that mean something to me again.
Since helping Rosemary Alexander with writing a couple of books back in 2002 and 2003 I have known I had the writing bug. Then, taking a sharp left had turn in 2011 to begin creating magazines (starting with Leaf Magazine) I solidified the personal knowledge that I love publishing and story-telling and the making of these types of projects. But through all of this and even after writing my own book, I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. I’ve clung fast to the last set of considered goals that I consciously set – which was to become a garden and landscape designer (another sharp left that I made in 2000 when I decided to leave the world of hi-tech)
Despite the obvious evidence that I have evolved and changed, I have always thought of myself as a garden designer who – like, kinda sort of, but whatever, in all sorts of non-confident and deeply doubtful tones – writes. But that narrative has been less and less true every year. The reality is that YES, (I still say it in a sightly assertive way because it is a question I get asked all the time and I sometimes feel a little defensive about it), I have worked a few garden-making projects (beyond my own) every year, but they are smaller and smaller and fewer and fewer all the time. All things media and writing related have largely taken over. I have been totally fine with this, in a passive way, for some time, but it is also something that just keeps happening in serendipitous ways. I have clung to the projects less because I love them and want to do them and more because I want to help a friend or someone I like and I feel I need to keep my toe dipped in the water. But the reality is that these tiny projects haven’t fueled me in any real way (not financially or creatively or in any other measure)
My challenge for 2016 is to actively figure out how to write about gardens and design and lifestyle, and the business of garden design without the crutch of being a garden designer. I need to figure out ways to find and tell stories like a real journalist would. This might include taking on a design project for the sake of telling the story – but unlike in the past, the story needs to be first. I also want to find ways to incorporate my design skills into this goal – perhaps with styling projects and improving my photography. I can hear you saying “Rochelle, all great writers write from experience” – and yes, I know that – and I have plenty of experiences to draw from. But I need to seek out the right experiences, and the experiences that will lead to great stories rather than trying to turn a dwindling set of experiences into something worth talking about. It is about intention.
Putting together this trends report is my first step in that direction. I put a lot of thought into it and I would be happy to discuss it in the comments if you have any reaction or additional thoughts to add. Of course, I hope you find this vision of what I (and with the input of some P+V colleagues) see in the future of gardening and garden design useful as you plan your garden, work out your own business goals and dreams, or simply try to make sense of all the change in the world and figure out your own new directions for 2016.
This link will direct you to a page where it can be downloaded via email. If you are already a P+V email subscriber, you will still need to enter your name and email – following that, it will tell you that you are already a subscriber (in a slightly tedious message that I have not yet been able to get rid of, but don’t worry you will only be subscribed once!) – and you will still get the report delivered to your inbox.