The Colouring-in book

We recently had a conversation about colouring-in books, I have tried this as a relaxation exercise but found it, well, boring if I’m honest. I think part of the problem was that however many pencils you have you are always going to be limited with your choice of colours, and also, however nice the overall picture is, some bits are just downright dull to fill in. A friend said that she does this using her iPad; we all stared at her and she said “yes it’s great, and so quick, you select a bit to fill in, then click on a colour, and there you go! quick, easy, and no risk of going outside the lines”. She was genuinely mortified when we all laughed, and explained that she was possibly missing the point here.

So – what is the main point of the colouring-in thing? I realised that in effect, this is what I’m doing when I’m gardening. It’s like colouring something in which automatically wipes itself clean every season, or at least every year; you are constantly trying to find not only the right colour to fill that gap that’s suddenly appeared, but also the right texture, and you’re also having to plan ahead because the chances are that when the colour you’ve planted finally comes to maturity the gap it is filling is by then a completely different shape, or may even have disappeared altogether. You can spend months finding the right colour, going over seed catalogues, magazines and books, an exercise which can actually be a lot more enjoyable than seeing the plant finally in place.


I think what I also like about it is that you don’t have to go for a wide range of colours, you might choose to stick with a subtle selection and just go for variations in texture:


And the best bit is, that if you’re not pleased with the overall effect, next year you can choose a whole new range of colours, and move the lines around so you get to fill in more interesting ‘shapes’. Going back to my previous post, you can create a shape within a shape, and one corner of the garden which may just look green from a distance may have all sorts of details within it, which you can only see from up close.

Gardening as meditation is a very valuable exercise, and it can be very therapeutic standing in your shed, listening to the rain outside while you pot up a few dozen seedlings, and it’s a very calming thing to work your way slowly down a border pulling out the weeds and doing a bit of gentle dead-heading, but it’s also good to look at the “big picture” sometimes, to take that step back and decide what page of your colouring book you want to start on next. Not as instant as iPod colouring in, but infinitely more satisfying.

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