Creativity Interview with Benjamin Ranyard: Gardener and writer

BenjaminKaspa writes: Satya and I like to grow things. At the moment we have tomato, courgette, aubergine and goodness knows what else sprouting on our windowsills and in our propagators. We also like to grow flowers. This year we’re growing a cutting garden from seeds provided by the wonderful Higgledy Garden.

Higgledy Garden is the horticultural child of Benjamin Ranyard. Benjamin provides beautiful eco-friendly flowers & seeds in the UK, and I am a big fan of the writing he does about growing things.

It’s a real pleasure to invite him to share his creative processes as part of our Creativity Interview Series.

Welcome Benjamin. Tell us, what drives your creative work?

I won’t pretend I am not motivated by money. Not a desire to be rich…but a desire not to have my landlord shouting at me. I have lived a great many years of my life in financial hardship…those days are happily over…sometimes I even by branded baked beans. Money is like whisky…it isn’t everything but a little is good for the nerves. I have a small business…I grow flowers and sell flowers and I also sell flower seeds…there is a direct correlation with my creative work and sales…if I write an article for my website I will make more sales…it is that simple. Though I must add I am also driven creatively by the fact I love every waking second of doing it…with these two strong motivators I never find it hard to get down to ‘work’.

higgledyWhat would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?

It wouldn’t be the beginning of my creative career I’d go back to…at that particular junction/spark everything fell into place…I made some mistakes, yes…but that is all part of the process. I would instead climb into my time machine and take myself a decade further back…to a time when I was a lost young man and my creativity had no direction. I would tell myself how nasty the next decade would be if I didn’t sharpen up and utilise any talents I might have…though naturally I wouldn’t listen to future ‘me’, firstly, because I was in my twenties and ‘knew it all’ and secondly because if a bloke comes up to you and says he’s from the future it’s generally best to call social services.

How do you keep creating when things get difficult?

Contrary to popular opinion I believe you can force creativity…to a point at least. If I think I haven’t got the drive to work I simply sit down and start writing…ANYTHING…I just don’t stop writing….random words…scenes I remember…shopping lists, whatever…after five minutes I usually get into the rhythm. I am not creating great works of literature…simply educational and hopefully entertaining pieces to encourage folk to grow flowers…I can’t play the artist with writers block who has to take time away from his desk and pretend to be a tree for an hour before the creative sap rises. I just get on with it and count my blessings that I don’t work in the baked bean factory.

Calendula-offinalisHow does your creative work affect the rest of your life?

I am generally much more attentive to the world around me…you tend to absorb much more data I think when you’re involved with a creative process…I tend to look out for things that make me laugh…or find things to laugh about that perhaps otherwise shouldn’t or wouldn’t make me laugh…the abstract makes me giggle…I have just moved to the north Cornish coast for instance…seagulls make me chuckle…they seem to me to the ornithological equivalent of ‘chavs’. If I’m laughing lots in the time away from my desk, I am usually a more entertaining writer when I return to it.

 What is it like to send your work out into the world?

Great. I have 1/4 of a million people visiting the site on an annual basis now. I get a good deal of positive feedback. I feel very proud of what I have achieved. I no longer feel nervous about self publishing my work…I know it may not be up to a standard that a horticultural publishing company would demand…but that doesn’t matter to me…my readers keep coming back, that’s all I need to know.

 What was the best advice anyone gave to you?

“Do or do not, there is no try.” ~ Yoda…

and…

‘Do what you love’…well…that and ‘don’t put your socks in the toaster’.

What helps you to pay attention to the world?

I am extraordinarily grateful for how my life is panning out. With true gratitude comes an attention to the world around you…I lap it up…I am surrounded by beauty…my job is to watch flowers grow and shout about that magic to anybody who will listen.

I watch the skies to see if they are going to offer up rain for my field or for gales that could threaten my crop…I am constantly aware of temperature fluctuations…especially in Spring…waiting for the soil to warm up enough to be able to germinate seeds. If I don’t pay attention to the world around me my flowers will fail to grow properly.

I also spend a good deal of time just sitting in my flower field…just hanging out…listening to the bees and watching what is going on in Flowerville…my Dad says this is laziness…he may be right…but I like doing it…I find a good policy with regards to things you like doing is to repeat them on a regular basis.

Thanks Benjamin. Do check out Benjamin’s articles and writing at Higgledy Garden.

Comments & replies

2 thoughts on “Creativity Interview with Benjamin Ranyard: Gardener and writer

  1. Ellecee

    What a lovely article/interview .Benjamin Ranyard sounds like a fellow I would love to meet. His candor is refreshing. I live in a cabin in a remote area and flower growing is something I am an apprentice at to say the least. I know I will visit Benjamin’s website to see how he can help me create the garden I would love to see. Thank you so much for sharing this interview.

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