Behind the Scenes: Starting from Scratch

Understanding how creation and destruction are delicately intertwined is one of the fundamental keys to making something extraordinary.

We moved into our second house almost two years ago, and like many other happy homeowners we inherited a predetermined garden. Unfortunately, this once cherished garden was not suited to our talents and tastes and so it languished...unattended.

Last fall as we looked out on our sorry little garden, my husband asked me what I wanted to do about it and like Attila the Hun out on a battlefield, I said, "I want to RIP it up and START OVER!"

I'm not sure if this is a Northwest Portland thing, but the moment you start pulling up a little plant and laying it to rest on the compost heap, once friendly neighbors start grimacing as if the roots you just ripped out of the ground were somehow intricately connected to their soul's well-being.

Luckily for me, my husband took the brunt of passerby's clucking and unhappy looks as one day he proceeded to make my dream come true and create a fresh, clean canvas of dirt!

This mass destruction of plant life felt sinfully delicious, and part of me wonders why people are so opposed to this wiping-the-slate-clean experience.

Then I hit on something important. Maybe people are afraid to feel the intense energy behind rubbing something out, ripping something apart, wiping it all away, and annihilating it into oblivion because in fact they might actually like it, become attached to it, and then where would that all lead...to something creative?

Honestly, I can't think of anything more freeing than recycling a piece of art that didn't work, white washing over a painting that no longer speaks to you, or dumping the latest kitchen experiment that tastes like glue onto the compost.

To create something new, you inevitably have to destroy something old. To change your mind you have to let go of one idea to embrace another. To move to the next step of development the person you were yesterday must die. To allow this constant becoming to flow you are always creating and destroying in every moment...so why not savor every time you need to break it all down again and start from scratch?!

What have you been longing to break down to its most elemental form?

See my whole Behind the Scenes series for more musings on art and design.


  1. I love the front of your home!. I am doing the exact thing..except I am paying someone to do it... lol... I met Sara at our Farmer's Market.. She works w/her family own nursery business. they sell drought tollerant plants from Australia, Mexico, Africa... A week ago I posted photos pre-Sara and post-Sara where she tackled my slope... We agreed on orchids, abutillons, etc...We're feminizing the yard, got rid of the 'dicks and balls', that my male designer put in ..'dicks and balls' refer to trees and bushes... I have to agree w/you that it feels great going thru the process of getting rid of the old and coming up w/a different look...Kudos to your hubby

  2. Well, we are in a new home and are starting that renewal process! First up is the yard. Not sure where we want to take it and there is some good landscaping, but other that is not so much. And in the house there are vanilla walls begging for color and art and design. This is my grown up house and I plan to stay here a good long time so I am interesting in real art on the walls and a design that seems deliberate not just fitting in all the hand me downs. Love the front of your house. I can see you sitting out there enjoying the day. Erin

  3. I would think that some of the concerned cluckers would adopt your chucked plants! The after pic is wonderful and you must post pictures after the bloom. I'm so jealous of your lush, green grass and your quaint neighborhood!

  4. in fact i was just doing some cannibalistic eyeballing of a bunch of jewelry in my shop that i thought would be much better used as spare parts. it just doesn't appeal to me anymore. or anyone else apparently because it's been there for a REALLY LONG time. i was so impressed with it last year...pah! mere childish doodling!

  5. Beautiful, Beth! I agree with Sharon - wonder why none of the plants were adopted by neighbors? They would have found places in my garden, for sure! Please post pics as the season progresses!

  6. Chrissy, I love this idea of feminizing the yard. What a cool way to think about the design of landscaping. Your new yard sounds beautiful!

    Erin, have fun envisioning the interior and exterior design of your new home!

    Lunedreams, I hear you about using jewelry for spare parts. I love the moment when you start taking it all a part and putting elements into their proper places to be used again in a new way. Happy designing!

    Thanks Sharon! The green grass is due to my husband and endless Portland rain :) I love this idea of a real "yard sale" Has this been done?

    Catherine, maybe you and Sharon can get together and invent this "yard sale" thing. It would be a total hit in Portland for the city is full of gardening junkies :)


I'd love for you to share your ideas and stories on my blog! Please know that I may not always be able to e-mail you a direct response, so be sure to check back to my blog and continue the dialogue. Many blessings for connecting with me through word and image :)