Inspiration and Vision

By Heidi Fehr Hower - APLDWA Secretary

"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision." James McNeill Whistler

Recently a client asked me a great question: "Where do you look for inspiration?" I love that she asked it. I've never had that question from a client, but seeing as she's an architect; it's not so surprising that it came from her. It should be asked more often, by clients and by ourselves.

Photo: Heidi Fehr Hower, Whidbey Island Garden Tour

I felt disappointed in myself because my answer to her question, to my own ears, sounded weak, as if I didn't understand the importance of inspiration or vision. Next I was apologetic, because a designer, I believe, should be the one carrying the lantern on that newly laid path to the highly anticipated end.

Julia Hower, Seattle Art Museum, Seeing Nature Exhibit

For the past year I've been consumed with the practical matters of life, family and business, checking off my endless to-do lists most days, and rarely taking time for play or new experiences.

Heidi Fehr Hower, Seattle Art Museum

I'm grateful to her, because this question has motivated me to put myself back into the realm of creating within an artistic and holistic space where my heart can be all in.

Heidi Fehr Hower, Sarah Jones Art Exhibit - La Conner

Without a vision, an inspiration, or a story, to design is a struggle. When you get that bright spark of an idea it can ignite the energy and passion for creating, which is why I'm a designer. Making and creating are my air and my water.

Heidi Fehr Hower, Sarah Jones Art Exhibit - La Conner

Last month I attended the Miller Memorial Lecture at UW Meany Hall, where Anna Pavord spoke about the topic of her new book, Landskipping: Painters, Ploughmen and Places, how landscapes real, imagined, remembered, and painted influence our culture and history. After a long day I nearly stayed home that night, then remembered my client's question and put on shoes. Anna's lulling voice and beautiful landscape images were exactly what I needed that night.

Where do we all find inspiration to create a vision for our client's gardens? We're attuned to our environments and we're perceptive, noticing little details, light reflecting off of dew drops, happy accidents in plant combinations, beautifully photographed books, Houzz, travel, garden tours, and the work of colleagues.

Inspiration need not be expensive to find, creativity, innovation and new thinking can get you there, even without the funds for a plane ticket. This fall as the daylight grows shorter you might consider asking yourself, "Where do I find inspiration?"