Blooms Day, January 2011 in Toronto

Hip-hip-hip hooray for Hippeastrum (aka Amaryllis) ‘Evergreen’

Other than snow flowers decking the branches, there’s not much blooming outdoors this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day in our frosty neck of the woods.

Indoors, the leaves of the over-wintering pelargoniums are hanging in, and the pale greeny-white blooms of Sarah’s new Amaryllis/Hippeastrum ‘Evergreen’ make a fabulous picture in her orange kitchen.

We northern gardeners are actually lucky to have this grow-nothing time each winter. It’s a fallow period for the mind.

This became clear to me as I reorganized my bookshelves recently, and came across a little book by ad-man James Webb Young, an essay on the process of creative thinking called A Technique for Producing Ideas. You can read a review and précis of his essay with all the steps at here.

Here’s the high-level version of Young’s process: After gathering all the information you can on the problem you’re trying to solve and giving yourself time to digest it, the most surprising – and perhaps most important – step is to stop thinking. Go away. Do something else. Let your unconscious do the work.

Winter imposes that step on us. It’s a time to read and research, put on our thinking caps and mull things over… but also a time for letting our unconscious do the garden work. So those Eureka! moments arrive with the fine weather.

I know I have some serious figuring out to do. As usual, my eyes are bigger than my garden. What do you think? Can my unconscious imagine me a few more acres of land?

To see what other gardeners are up to this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, skip on over to May Dreams Gardens, where blogger extraordinaire Carol hosts a bloomin’ show and tell every 15th of every month.

I’m letting my unconscious play with a stack of seed catalogues and seed packets.


  1. A long while I was in advertising and like the author realized too that percolating on a problem subconsciously or design mindlessly was a way to generate a solution. Just go off and the idea pops into your mind, almost out of nowhere. I am in architecture now and use this method all the time.

  2. My garden magically grows much larger in winter, then shrinks back down when spring comes & I sow seeds, then it shrinks even more as the seeds sprout and the plants start to grow. It makes it very challenging not to order too many seeds.

  3. No winter down time here. We slow down a bit when it is too hot to do more than duck out for the most urgent watering, early or late. But not in between. I have to make do with – Sleep on it!

  4. "My eyes are bigger than my garden."

    Oh, do I ever know what that's like! I've decided that I not only collect plants, I collect seeds, too.

    Love that amaryllis!

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