Hortus Arboretum and Botanical Gardens will be offering their one-week writers residency again this February, and I am honored to be a juror this time around.
A private, quiet space to focus on your own creative work can be an invaluable gift. In our culture we regularly underestimate how important it is to be able to be comfortable with one’s self. When we’re left all alone, and routines are removed, what do we turn to? Where do our minds wander when left to our own devices? What bubbles up when it’s just you and the trees, the stars, some dried herbs for brewing teas, and some scattered wood to gather for a fire? A week with no distractions is a week well spent.
I believe in the energy of a space. A humble plot set out in the middle of the woods – just downhill of a landscape lovingly and tirelessly tended to – is my idea of good creative energy. And yes, you’ll be there in February, when the gardens are all iced over and cold. Which is why that time is reserved for writers…who better to be inspired by what others may perceive as an absence, but holds itself patiently in wait and full of hope.
It doesn’t hurt that the curators of these gardens are distinctive artists themselves. Allyson Levy and Scott Serrano have carefully fostered their relationship with nature, and the intimacy shows in their respective artistic endeavors. There is a strong sense of back and forth in each of their pieces, a conversation with nature as opposed to a talking at her. Alternately in awe, playful, in flux and waxed over in timeless suspension, these are unique takes on the magic one may find within a garden.