Idea File: Turn something upside-down

Who wouldn’t want to sit in this shady nook? But wait, there’s more.

This Friday’s Idea File contains a single idea, but hopefully one that provokes thought. Sometimes we have our best ideas by turning something on its head. Go on, think of something. Now think of its opposite. Does it make you rethink your first idea? Or give you a fresh route to inventing new ones?

This is a creative strategy that works for me in my other life as a copywriter, when I do things like help create names for companies and products. So here’s the idea: an upside-down tree house. The picture above is the top.

Now, look down. Look waaaaaaaay down. (Friendly Giant fans will get this reference.)
Down in the valley is the Swiss Family Robinson “treehouse”. Would you have thought of making it a deck, with railings?

Wasn’t that a great way to solve the problem of a steeply sloped lot? Do you have a garden problem you can turn upside-down to brainstorm solutions with? Give it a try.


    1. Alison, A good example might be what to do in dry shade with tree root competition. You might think: add a raised bed that sits above the tree roots – you can amend the soil, but gravity will still allow the moisture to run through quickly.

      Here's the opposite: a sunken bed, using something like an old pond liner – again, you can amend the soil but the pool liner will hold the moisture in place for longer. Might be a better solution in the right spot.

    1. Helen, Barbara (below) is right. The ropes were to deal with a tree that had just recently been damaged. You can see the cracked trunk in the top left corner of the bottom picture.

      Yes, those steps would be a climb. Like having a gym in your back yard.

  1. Was this from the TBG Tour? If I remember the ropes were for a damaged tree that was threatening the beautiful little deck. So true about turning things upside-down – often unsticks my brain when I just can't get past old thoughts. Remember hearing deBono talk about this too. Thanks for the excellent reminder.

    1. Yes, Barbara, it was when Through the Garden Gate was located in the Beach. And, you're right again, that tree had been badly damaged by a storm just before the tour.

  2. That's a strategy I'll have to try when I get "writers block" with a new idea for a gardening ebook. Turn the idea upside down & have a re think! It just might work…

    1. Don, there's a great book about idea generation called Thinkertoys that contains all sorts of strategies. Now I will have to use a few Thinkertoy strategies to remember whom I loaned it to!

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