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“Patience is the master key to every situation”

Another wonderful article from Brain Pickings, this time Rilke on ‘the lonely patience of creative work.’

Solitude and patience are essential to creative work, he says: “Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth.”

Since having a garden, and making my first steps towards growing things, I’m understanding this a lot better.

Just look at this – it’s a broccoli seed

A seed of a broccoli plant

I planted some of these last summer. Here are the seedlings, just planted out, in around July:

Broccoli seedlings

Little was I to know there are FAR too many here, because they get big…I had to pull up 5 plants in the end, and the bed still looked like this a month or two later, with plants nearly as tall as me:

The leaves were ravaged by caterpillars as we didn’t know to protect the plants from butterflies. Over the winter I really wondered if any of the plants would produce actual broccoli, or whether we might as well pull them up. They went through snow and cold and looked pretty sad, but by January there was broccoli appearing, much to my excitement:

The fruits of nature’s labour, and my own patience :

As metaphors go, it’s a good one I think. Those yellowing, rotting leaves on the ground in the penultimate photo pretty much represent the poems that died, but they didn’t prevent the good stuff from bearing fruit. And quite a lot of the ‘good stuff’ didn’t look at all good most of the time, so much so that I nearly gave up on the lot, which would have been a shame.

This year’s broccoli seedlings are growing, but I won’t say ‘I can’t wait’ for them to produce, because this time I know I can wait!

Published inAngstBlogInspirationWriting


  1. ellly ellly

    A well presented argument 🙂 Thanks.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Elly – and for the retweets! 🙂

  2. Great post! We had a similar experience in my community garden, wondering if those huge plants were ever going to produce broccoli – and after many months they did! It’s so exciting & satisfying. Also, it’s suggested you remove lower leaves as the plants grow, but you can eat these – a bit like kale – hope you’ve tried that!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Hilaire – no we didn’t eat the leaves, mostly they were eaten by caterpillars and didn’t look too tempting! I did remove quite a lot of yellow/rotten leaves but once the netting was up we didn’t have easy access. It all came good in the end, Hope you found the same! I’m now stressing about the corn plants which started very small and now I realise they’re going to be far too big for the bed they’re in…!

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Robin Houghton 2021