Digging Deep


“Discovering the magic that takes place in the garden and in life everyday enables you to open to experience feelings of freedom and peace and engage in a playful type of creating – without worrying about the results. It’s play for the sake of play.Fran Sorin



When I read this quote, I was struck by how relevant it was in my life now.  I have a post about play DSCN9029coming up, on Thursday, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  And I thought how insightful Fran was about creating and play.  

So when Fran gifted me an ebook copy of the 10th Anniversary Edition of her book, Digging Deep, I was excited to read it.  Especially since she goes into greater detail about creativity.

Now I have to confess that part of my delay in reading the book has been because I do not have an e-reader nor do I want one.  I am an old-fashioned girl preferring to read paper books.  There are many benefits to e-readers so it is wonderful we have them.  In case I need to use one (like to read this book), I have an app on my iPod Touch and on my laptop. 

DSCN9030But I must say it is darn hard to read an ebook on a laptop…and forget the smaller devices.  But I persevered since I really wanted to read the book.  I had read a few reviews already, as there have been many wonderful reviews since Fran released the 10th Anniversary Edition.  And I was excited to give you my perspective.

In the interest of creating and play, I am combining this post with my weekly, creating a vase, post where I link in with Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday.  There is nothing more creative and playful than finding/picking flowers and making an interesting arrangement.  





Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening



Author:  Fran Sorin

Paperback: 254 pages

Publisher:   Braided Worlds Publishing; 10th Anniversary Edition edition (October 7, 2014)

Amazon Price:  $13.19 (Paperback), $4.99 (Kindle)





In A Few Words

 As Fran write’s in her Introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book:

The idea of this book has helped people not only connect with nature-becoming intimately acquainted with its cycles and secrets-but with their own true nature, as well…


A perfect description of the essence of this book.  It goes beyond gardening to reach deep within each of DSCN9046us, and help us develop and unearth that deeper meaning we are looking for in our lives.  

Fran’s story paralleled mine in a way as she never considered herself an expert gardener nor did she believe she was creative.  And gardening became a sacred act where plunging her hands into the dirt connected her with the earth in such a profound way.

In her book, Fran takes us through a creative process much like she has done with her clients in her garden design business.  She uses what she calls the 7 Stages of Creative Awakening-Imagining, Envisioning, Planning, Planting, Tending, Enjoying and Completing.  She believes anyone can create a garden, or whatever they want to in their lives, if we can have an opportunity to nurture that creative spirit.

Each section/stage has experiments, advice, and important “how-tos”.   I thought I would take you briefly through the first stage which is so important to the creative process; Imagining:  The Sparks of Creativity.  In this section she has several subsections to explore:  Observing, Discovery, Remembering, Exploring, Opening To Possibility and Playing.   With each section comes a “Try This”, many of which I am already doing and have encouraged my clients to do when we start to talk about designing their garden.  And by reading this section it encouraged me to continue these practices.

DSCN8857For example in Observing she encourages you to keep a Nature Journal….I have done this in many ways (pictures and notebook) this past year as I have observed my garden.   In Discovering she says to look for elements and plants you like in garden magazines and garden books.  I did this as I was designing the initial bones of the garden almost 10 years ago and it is a wonderful process that I will continue.  In Remembering she encourages you to think about fond childhood memories of nature and gardens….very powerful and something I have used in designing my own gardens too.  With Exploring she says go and look at gardens and parks around you.  And I love the idea of envisioning a garden with no limits in Opening to Possibilities.  What dreams I have.

Lastly Fran encourages you to Play by buying (or picking) a bunch of flowers and arranging loads of vases with no set plan.  I do this every week now when I create my Vases and show them here on my blog.  And I have to say it is one of the most powerful experiences for unleashing your creativity. 

This is just one section of Fran’s book and I hope to continue to explore each section a bit further as the year unfolds.




What I Liked

There is so much contained in this book, that I couldn’t possibly tell you everything I liked, but here are aDSCN8911 few of the general ideas from the book that really made me think.

Fran encourages the reader to live with ambiguity.  I think that is hard for anyone, but especially a gardener.  And learning to live with uncertainty this past year was a valuable lesson that has served me well in my garden and life.  

Another lesson from Fran is that mistakes are a gift.  I cannot agree more, and when we accept mistakes as a good thing then we are free to try without fear or judgement.  

The final lesson that really spoke to me was surrendering your agenda.  Going through the creative process without an agenda is so much more rewarding because you open up to so many possibilities that you might have closed off. 




Not So Much 

 DSCN8914There really is nothing I don’t like about this book.  Especially because it is more than a gardening book.  I plan to use the book as I go through this year of discovery and planning in my garden and life.  I am sure you will see references to it on both my blogs.






Final Thoughts

DSCN9027I cannot recommend this book enough no matter where you are with gardening or with your life.  I have come to believe, as Fran does, that gardening is one of the best ways to uncover the creative spirit that lies within each of us.  With this book, you will learn something useful if you are a beginner needing to build your confidence, or if you have experience with gardening and are looking for a bit of inspiration.  A pleasurable must read for everyone. 

You can read more from Fran at both her blogs:  Gardening Gone Wild and Fran Sorin.com 







In A Vase On Monday 


amaryllis opening collage

It has been bone chillin’ cold with a layer of a foot of snow covering everything.  So thankfully one of the buds from one of my Hippeastrum bulbs (what we usually call amaryllis) opened up.  Amazing really all these blooms coming from one bulb.  This one is called ‘Sweet Star’, and is a gorgeous shade of pink.  I love watching the stages of this flower as it opens.  




I was so excited for the blooms, that I was unsure how I would display them.  I tried a crystal wine goblet and an antique sugar bowl, and I didn’t like either because the flower was so big.  Then I remembered I had this Mikasa lead crystal dish (a wedding present) that I never use.  It just sits on display gathering dust.  I hoped it would do.

I had read from various bloggers that it is best to secure the bottom of the stem with a rubber band to give it more stability.  I cut the stem to a short length, put the rubber band on securely, and then placed the stem on a flower frog.  I surrounded the blooms with some sphagnum moss to fill out the display as I didn’t have any greenery.




views amaryllis vase collage

I liked how the arrangement changed as the flowers bloomed more fully.  I displayed the vase in the turquoise bathroom with a white container and then with a bright pink candle holder.  Loved them both.  I also brought it to the kitchen table and used an antique china tea cup and saucer from the 1940s.  The china belonged to my MIL, and the pattern is called Cosmos.  I thought it was perfect.  

I really enjoyed fiddling with this display in various settings.  All pictures in this post are from ‘Sweet Star’ growing or blooming in its vase.

I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.




Next up on the blog:  

Wednesday I will have another Stuck Foot post showcasing the Bog Garden in a bit more detail.  And next Monday brings us to another Native Plant Profile.


I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 


54 Replies to “Digging Deep”

  1. I love your amaryllis flower, I’m kicking myself for not growing any this year. It is a shame that you had to cut the stem so short as I do think one of their attractions is the long thick stem.

    1. I am looking for vases and other containers to display these huge blooms in various ways as I have 4 more at least in various stages of growth and color. I should be able to keep a few long stems in the future I hope.

      I am very pleased with this flower too Christina. As this display has opened and matured, it continues to be stunning in the dish.

    1. I agree and this one was made to sit in the light and let it pour right through it…it changed colors as it went from bud to full bloom and as it is aging too.

  2. This is such a pretty flower and the color is so delicate. Thank you for linking with Today’s Flowers Donna. I always find your posts full of interesting information, as well as enjoying your delightful photos. Have a great week 🙂

  3. Sweet Star is a beautiful and happy shade of pink. You’ve created a lovely arrangement Donna. Also I like this from the quote: “without worrying about the results.” I was making some similar notes recently as a reminder to myself. Have a great week.

    1. That is one of the most important parts about the book and process of play and creating Susie…letting go of the results. I did that with this vase and it turned out lovely!

  4. I love the pink, and what a good idea to use some sphagnum moss as a filler. It’s always nice to find a use for those dust-catching wedding gifts, too! I think you’re right, displaying it on the kitchen table with your mother-in-law’s china cup is perfect!

    1. I am looking around the house as I am clutter clearing these days and finding some uses now for things that have been gathering dust….I really adore my MILs china…I know I will use the sugar bowl or creamer in the future for a vase and they are so different, nostalgic and charming.

  5. All your photos of that gorgeous Amaryllis are wonderful Donna! Lovely arrangements with the china and the vase too. The book does sound lovely and I can tell how much you enjoyed it. Have a good week Donna, and hope you are getting more sunshine than us!

    1. We are getting a couple of days a week but it is so cold…today it is gray. And somedays the sun shines but for a few minutes…but I am grateful for those few minutes. Have a great week and I hope you get a bit more sunshine Cathy!

  6. I love the colour of your pink amaryllis, just gorgeous. I’m going to have a look for Fran’s book, you have intrigued me with your review.
    Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday Donna.

    1. It is a wonderful book, and Judith if you have an ereader, Fran is still giving away free e-copies if you do an honest Amazon book review.

  7. What gorgeous arrangements! You are sure in your essence creating these beautiful scenes. I love the old-fashioned femininity you’ve created. Thanks for the book review too. The title is one I’ve used on a story. It’s a perfect title for folks like us.

    1. I think pink flowers just exude old-fashioned femininity Susie so it was fun to find things around the house that could be put to use as additions to the flowers…especially the china which has been in the basement for 10 years.

  8. Thank you for the link to the book, Donna, which seems to contain many thoughts that would resonate with me. Your amaryllis is gorgeous too, and I love how you have played around with different shots. In the past I would have agreed with Christina about the stem – but not now! Unless you have several of them together the stem is just a liability and an accident waiting to happen, and although mine is not cut as much as yours or even my last one, cutting it offers so many opportunities and I would never hesitate to do it now. This is what the meme has done for us!

    1. I think you would like the book Cathy. I agree, your meme offers so many ideas and possibilities that it just keeps me giddy with delightful play. I have several more amaryllis, and many ideas of how to display them now.

      I like the color of this bloom so much that I will try to keep this bulb and see if I can get it to bloom again next year. Have a wonderful week!

  9. Those are really pretty flowers, I love how delicate they look and the colors are beautiful. Someday, I would like to have a flower garden too. I do have some books on gardening that helps me dream about it. As to execution, I guess we’ll see… hehe.. thanks for sharing…

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Maya. I started gardening with houseplants and containers outside. Then graduated to little plots of land….now I am a full addict. Enjoy whatever gardening you decide to do.

  10. I’m always hesitant to cut Amaryllis but both you and Cathy have certainly made the most of them today. I have Fran Sorin’s book on my iPad too but I’ve been taking a vacation from reading from the iPad in the belief that my late night reading sessions screw up my sleep patterns. The iPad is definitely harder to read from than my old Kindle (which was appropriated by my husband). Still, your review gives me a prod to take up my e-books again.

    1. Definitely read her book Kris when you can even if daytime is best on the ereader….and I have several more amaryllis bulbs to choose from in the coming months so it will be fun to keep experimenting. Cathy’s vase today was stunning.

    1. I have the red ones too and love them Gunilla, but I was intrigued by the pink one…and I am not disappointed by the blooms.

  11. I prefer old fashioned books, too, Donna, but will make an exception for this one based on your review. Oh, how I would love to become disciplined enough to keep an honest to goodness nature journal. It sure does open one’s eyes. Something to work on this year! I do keep a sketchbook just for gardening. I have also cut out magazines and such. I love Pinterest – sort of an electronic vision board without all the cutting. I “pin” all sorts of gardening ideas there but how I love getting back to paper and away from a monitor.

    1. I wish I had time to get into Pinterest more as it is helpful and Fran mentions it too. I have an account but not much else. Maybe one day. I need to be more disciplined too in keeping my nature journal. I know what you mean about getting away from the monitor Kathy.

    1. Thanks! I really love making the mosaics especially when I am given such a beautiful flower Beth…and this amaryllis is still making me swoon with its pale pink color right now.

  12. Lovely flowers and the book sounds interesting. I have learned a lot with the gardens we have had, but this one that I planted myself is the biggest learning curve!

  13. Oh, Donna, your posts are always so interesting, but this one is super-interesting! I’m looking forward to reading more about the book later. For example the different stages are intriguing; Imagining must be the first one, but then many surely occur contemporaneously, especially Tending, Enjoying and Completing… 🙂
    Your Hippeastrum is wonderful. I think that kind of gentle pink is one of the colours of my creative spirit.
    And yes, I too strongly prefer to read paper books!
    Have a lovely week!

    1. I am so glad you really enjoyed the post and pink flower Sara….and it is a wonderful book….I agree that many of the stages do occur at the same time especially in life and gardening. Wishing you a fabulous week!

    1. Thanks and I love this flower….I have another bud just beginning to break so I will have more of this pink flower to enjoy now!

  14. Lovely photos and the book sounds wonderful. I have to agree with reading a book in hand after tromping to the library to select it. And a book of such a nature of gardening must be enjoyed in book form.

  15. Beautiful photo series Donna, I love the idea of this book… digging deep connecting our own inner cycles to the cycles of time in nature. This makes perfect sense to me it is certainly what I have observed in my life. Thanks as always for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro:-)

  16. So much to like in this post. I love exploring but should do more, no limits sounds wonderful. I’m only just learning to play and must spend more time on it. Mistakes are a gift and surrender the agenda will come in very handy as I take some handicraft classes next weekend. I will be going with a whole new mindset since reading your review.
    I love china from the 1920s-40s. The bathroom is one of my favourite places to put flowers. All in all I feel as if we have had a nice chat over a cup of tea.

  17. Pretty in Pink. I have one in red blooming now. The book does sound interesting. Gardening is one way to develop creativity, it has so many elements of design built in.

    1. I really loved the 3 colors of bulbs I am growing this winter. Pink one has been gorgeous and really lovely with the backdrop of winter white.

Comments are closed.