Backyard gardening can be more than just a hobby. It can become an essential activity with numerous benefits, and here are a few of them.
Growing up in a mountain and lake region of Québec and loving outdoor activities, nature has always been essential. Love and timing can sometimes bring you somewhere unexpected. One day, it has brought me living in Montreal city for 15 years (when I expected that to be temporary for a year only), and here I am now, living by the Snowy Mountains of Australia! After years under the pump designing music festival promotional prints, I have found new passions that ground me with gardening and culinary creativity. Growing food was initially an experimental, remedial and dream hobby, but it has slowly become a side of my creative business studio, especially since I became an occasional contributor with ABC Organic Gardener Magazine. Maybe I needed more good reasons to spend time with the plants, bees and chooks, or maybe that was just meant to be! If you have a green thumb and an entrepreneurial spirit, there are several ways to turn your home garden into a small creative or horticultural business.
Various backyard market products • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019
You can become a market gardener and earn some extra pocket money selling plant divisions, seeds, cuttings, extra produce, floral bouquets and delicious homemade preserves made with the harvest. I did that for a while and learned so much from it. Doing markets was great also when I was new in town, and that helped me meet other like-minded people. If you have talents in drawing and painting, you can use your plants as models for study and inspiration for botanical art. Some do amazing crafting and eco prints using fresh or dried blooms and leaves. The most interesting thing I developed and kept evolving is writing and photographing food content with organic food. Since then, my garden has become a fresh prop studio where I can source produce and botanicals all year.
Gardening magazine photography work • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2022
Most of the time, I photograph my food & produce composition on the terrace as it is undercover but also has a great natural light. But I also use the backyard as a shoot location for storytelling context. Once I had gathered a good "stock" collection, I was ready to contact some national gardening magazines, which have been very well responded to. Most gardening contributors work from different parts of the country, and as I live in the Snowy Valleys region, I can add content related to cool climate subjects. With my experience in graphic design, following a brief for a specific cover shoot on a deadline is in my line of work and I love it. The most challenging thing with assigned cover shoots is that the work must be done a season before the issue's publication. It is not impossible, though, with a sense of resourcefulness. Growing food to use in photography and developing seasonal recipes means you have to monitor the weather and be prepared as harvest time approaches. Everything is all about timing and priorities. There are times of the year when everything is ready to pick at the same time, and photography with fresh produce has to be done quickly.
Growing for the kitchen and studio • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-22
It is a great privilege to learn about gardening in Australia. The climate allows the cultivation of various types of crops every season of the year, even in the cool zone! In 2020, we felt so grateful that our home and beautiful eclectic garden survived the bushfire disaster that burned over 600,000 hectares of our region. Our garden comforted and grounded us when Covid-19 pandemic came. When most of my clientele were affected by fires, smoke taint and virus restrictions, I was out of work. But during uncertainties, the garden gave me positive thoughts, new inspiration and purposes, a safe nest… and delicious food to enjoy and share. Resilience from tough times gave me the confidence to publish my first stories on this blog. Writing about your gardening and harvest cooking adventures can also benefit yourself and others, and that's another good reason to keep digging and pottering!
Garden storytelling • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-22
In between local client and magazine jobs, I am currently developing content for my cookbook and happily looking after my garden and all the creatures that live in it. I may not have children, but my days are quite full. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but I am grateful I can achieve something meaningful every day. Gardening combined with some stretching (in the yards) keeps me balanced and reduces the stress accumulated after working at the computer. I learn constantly, always feeding my brain with something new. In the garden, I disconnect, breathe, find ideas, and keep things alive. In the garden, I don’t need to look pretty. In the garden, there is no nostalgia, only experience. In the garden, what matters the most is the present and the future. In my garden, there is always something busy: the bees, the plants, the birds, the slugs, worms, chickens, a cat, and me. While watering, picking, taking photos, pulling weeds and sowing seeds, I’m thinking about these words, and this is how I know my garden is way more than a hobby.
Coming up: how to create a low-maintenance fresh prop garden to source produce all year.