A Powerful Combination

I just love going to garden centres.

I love to walk along the aisles of ordered plants: a shelf of petunias, a bed of pansies, a row of ornamental cherry saplings.

I love how the fragrance subtly changes as you move from one display to another.

I love how my eye is first attract by the mass of colour, but then becomes entranced by the individual detail of the petal, the stamen, the leaf shape that truly delights.

I love to be surrounded by well-cared for plants; clematis, magnolias, ranunculi and azaleas draped with an aura of nurture, love and consideration.

Salmon Pink Ranunculus

Pink Clematis

Purple Stripe Clematis

Pink Rhodedendrons

Purple Parrot Tulip

Magnolia Heart

Orange Ranunculus

It’s this heady mixture of sensual delight with the awareness of the loving attention lavished upon each individual plant that inspires my love for the garden centre.Ā  Although the garden centre is certainly not the only place that I find this intoxicating combination. I experience similar delight when I visit the farmers’ market, where the products on sale are presented with the justifiable pride of a producer who has had hands-on involvement in bringing the product to the eager customer. I find it in craft fairs where knitters, beaders, binders, and painters all ply their trade while simultaneously practicing their craft for all to see: a community demonstration of the time, intention and creativity which goes into each individual item. Lastly, I find it in blogs which display well-crafted writing, provide food for thought, and give me information, entertainment, and aesthetic pleasure. The time and effort which has gone into each to provide sensual pleasure translates as a powerful positive intention to connect, to communicate, to create.

Where do you find this powerful combination of a treat for the senses with evidence of positive intention?


May 4, 2008. Creativity, Environment, Photography.


  1. Eric Hamiltn replied:

    I find inspiration in very different places, but I love the intimacy of your experience – and though we’re very different – I can relate.

  2. mrschili replied:

    Amy, GOOD LORD. Those photos are just stunning.

    I find inspiration in specialty food markets. I have my creative outlets in writing and cooking, and even though I don’t regularly shop in frou-frou markets (I can’t afford it; 14-dollar-a-pound cheese – who are they kidding?!) I really do love strolling down the aisles and imagining what I’d do with this or that unusual ingredient. Sometimes I’ll come home with something new, but just as often the inspiration I come away with is enough to let me see my pantry with new eyes.

  3. wendikelly replied:

    All of those places that you mentioned and coming here is one of those places as well.

    wonderful resteraunts where food is presented as art and tastes like it too.

    Also I love to go to art shops and art museums.
    I love looking at art of any kind when artists have taken the time to give birth to something new.

  4. Brett Legree replied:


    These are all very beautiful. My favourite one is the second one. I have a soft spot for that colour, and have many images like that to use as computer wallpaper. I also like the depth of the photo – the two flowers lined up one behind the other.

    Very nice – thank you for sharing!


  5. David replied:


    Thank you for another thought provoking post.

    I always hope that when my lecturers mark my essays they see the time and effort I put in to crafting a careful argument. I think it would be interesting to read student essays – they all have so many hours work put into them, then only one or two people read them.

    For me, a person learning to write, I enjoy looking for the special attentions to detail that have gone into certain writing. There is too much writing in the world that is bland and single-layered.

    Another place I look for excellent craftmanship is in conversation. It is always a delight to be captivated by a master conversationalist – and it happens so little in the rush of my life.

    There is nothing like a well-made film or a well written book that you are able to watch again and again, finding something new every time.

    Lives well lived have this intoxicating, captivating quality.

  6. Nik Piepenbreier replied:

    Those pictures are beautiful! Very impressive photography!

    I find inspiration walking through my neighborhood listening to music. I find something new every time!

  7. amypalko replied:

    Ah, it wouldn’t do if we were all the same, Eric. Actually that’s the whole principle that underpins this blog: everyone is different and everyone is special.

    Thank you, Mrschili, I’m glad you like them! Oh, and I completely agree with specialist food markets. I could stand and stare at that produce for hours šŸ˜‰

    Oh I just love art galleries, Wendikelly. They are like a special treat for the soul, are they not?

    You are most welcome, Brett. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

    I love the way you’ve put that, David,
    “Lives well lived have this intoxicating, captivating quality.”
    Just beautiful!
    As for marking essays, I will have another batch of them coming in next week. I look forward to reading them, and I can tell when a student has put the hours and the effort in, believe me. As a tutor it’s partly what makes the job rewarding: knowing that you’ve inspired them to engage with the text and to write attentive analysis.

    Thank you Nik. Wow, I wish I had a neighbourhood like yours! All I can hear when I walk through mine is a few dogs barking and the drone of a hoover. Not a very musical place, I’m afraid. V. suburban!

  8. Rosa Say replied:

    Amy, the posting you have crafted here for your most recent photos (captivating as usual!) is so perfect for a Sunday morning! I think of the Artist Dates that writing coach Julia Cameron encourages us all to take, and there are such wonderful suggestions being added here.

    David, the writing within your comment caused me to find your blog (and instantly follow you on Twitter!) and I love what you said about conversation~ there definitely can be craftsmanship there as well. I am all for conversation (talking story as we call it in Hawai’i) being recognized as the art form it can and should be.

    And isn’t Amy the most gracious hostess in pulling the effort out of us?

  9. Bo replied:

    A lovely post. The photos are just superb, though I am always wishing for the names of the beauties I see. I’m one who likes to put a name to a flower in hopes that I recognize it when it comes round again.

    As for sensory delights, right now I am spending as much time as I can in the hardwood forests near my home – the trees have not yet canopied and the forest floor is filled with sights. Today, though I rather had to chase a wild turkey away. I feared for my nose!

  10. Teacher Girl replied:

    Hi Amy!
    Beautiful post!
    I am often filled with something between inspiration and awe when travelling somewhere new on a bus or train at night while listening to my i-pod. The familiar music serves as soundtrack to my new experience; the contrast of these two suits me perfectly. I have written some work (poetry) that I am still proud of on these late-night trains and bus rides.

  11. On a Limb with Claudia replied:

    These photos are truly works of art, Amy. Wow. I’m blown away!

  12. Joanna Young replied:

    Amy, these pictures are breathtaking. Are flowers your speciality?


  13. amypalko replied:

    You’re very kind, Rosa. One of the things about this blog which is extremely important to me is that everyone feels welcome like the cherished visitors they truly are, so it is just lovely when someone picks up on it šŸ™‚ As for the Artist’s Dates, I just loved that concept when I first read of it! I try and make artist’s dates out of as many daily experiences as I can. I’m trying to embrace the creative life, you could say šŸ˜‰

    If you hover the cursor over the photo, Bo, you’ll find the title, where I have given the name of each flower. Your curiosity will be satisfied šŸ™‚ Oh, and the forest sounds just lovely!

    Oh, I love the idea of soundtracks helping us to view the old and familiar as something new and strange, Teacher Girl! Thank you so much for that šŸ™‚

    Aw, thank you, Claudia šŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked them so much!

    I actually have no idea if they’re my speciality, Joanna. If I’m honest I don’t really think in those terms. Maybe it’s that I consider myself too much of a learner to have got to the point of having a ‘speciality’ as such. I’m glad you like them though!

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