Not All Ideas “Come True”

Oct 23, 2017 | Lifestuff

We gardeners have a saying about seeds: when you get a plant growing from seed that is the same as the parent plants, we say that the plant “comes true” from seed. Hybrids often don’t grow true from seed in that you’ll get plants that resemble one or the other parent plant that went into producing the hybrid, but not offspring that resemble the hybrid cross.

I like this saying as I’ve often compared proposing ideas and projects to throwing seeds into a garden. Some germinate, but many don’t. I have pitched far more books to publishers that didn’t get published than proposals that made it into print. I’ve had more ideas that never made it to market, so to speak, than those that came to fruition. And some ideas didn’t exactly come true, but led to other things that did.

In the 1980’s I was an artist working on paper. I was also a garden geek, so it’s not surprising that a great deal of my pieces had plants and gardening as their theme. I made designs for greeting cards, posters, and books. Some of these were printed or published, but many were not. I have a stack of such work in my basement. Yet although these didn’t germinate and grow, they inadvertently led to my current work as a garden communicator.

In the early 1990’s I wrote and illustrated a book titled “My Heart’s Garden.” It didn’t go anywhere, but I’m still rather fond of some of the illustrations.

This work was collage – pre-computer. I used a camera, colored pencils, pastels and a xerox machine to produce the pieces.

Home and garden images filled this book and the garden was used as a metaphor for life. Not so different from some of my blog posts and talks now, I guess.

Other pieces weren’t for books, but done for my own pleasure. Here I was clearly thinking about how the elegance of quack grass was similar to flowers and women’s apparel. This was one in a series of “weed pieces.”

I never intended to be a garden writer, speaker or radio host. I just wanted to stay in my studio and make stuff. But those wishes didn’t come true. Something else grew instead. I just needed to be ready to see the good things that could germinate, even though they were’t what I had in mind when I planted.



  1. Kylee Baumle

    Oh, YES. Sometimes the paths we take to our current or future destinations take the scenic route. And every step was necessary, whether we thought it was at the time or not.

    • CL Fornari

      Agreed! I like that Don McLean song that goes something like this: “I don’t believe in looking back, cuz all roads lead to where I stand. And I believe I’ve walked them all, no matter what I may have planned.” That said, we need to keep our eyes open for all possible future paths, trails and freeways because there are often options…

  2. claire jones

    So true! I was just trying to explain today to someone who is not a gardener what ‘true to seed’ was and you explained it perfectly.

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Claire. We might apply this expressing “comes true” to so many situations. So. Since so many expressions and metaphors come from agriculture and gardening, why are plants and gardens disappearing from the popular culture?

  3. Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

    Love this! Your paintings are gorgeous! It is true…you never know where life will take you.

  4. Camen DeVito

    I love the image with the thistle !

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Carmen – one of my favorites too, because I like how the quack grass came out and the contrast between that and the other elements.


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