Planting the Seed of an Idea!

Paul Fairweather
3 min readMay 21, 2020
Flindersia Australis Original Watercolour Paul Fairweather 2020

The seedpod from a Crows Ash tree, also known as Australian Teak. The theme this week is tree seeds, as an analogy for planting the seed of an idea, or more generally creativity. From such a tiny thing grows such a large tree. I am not great with botanical names, but I love Flindersia Australis. You can’t get much more Australian than that!

Crows Ash is a very durable timber and was used in boat building, dance floors, verandah decking and outdoor furniture. Sadly, there is very little commercially available these days.

A few years back, I did a project called Tree2House. It was inspired in part by a client of mine who had retired to Northern New South Wales near Tintienbar. On the property, he planted hundreds of joinery timbers, which he referred to as a gift to his children’s children and their children. In years to come, it will be a precious asset, but the client will never get to reap the rewards.

This is the nature of planting a seed, whether it be for a tree, or for an idea. In the case of the joinery plantation, there is much preparation in getting the ground ready, attention to the planting to ensure there is enough space. Then for some time, the saplings need to be cared for. After a time, they will become reasonably self-sufficient. Still, there is always ongoing work against pests and disease, and clearing around the undergrowth to allow maximum growing potential.

My Tree2House project was a series of greeting cards, based on a couple of woodcuts I did. The cards contained seeds to 2 different types of trees. One was for a tree to build a treehouse in, and the other for the timber to build a treehouse with. It was a gift for your children’s children, and attempt to get people to think in different timeframes.

Link to a little video that was produced by Shantanu Starick as part of his Pixel Project

It is not enough to just have an idea. An idea needs to be nurtured in a fertile environment. In the classic 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, the real work starts when the idea begins to grow.

I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, a novel about trees that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In the first chapter, he describes the life of a Chestnut Tree that has been photographed about a thousand times over 3 generations and described by Power at one stage as looking like broccoli. It made me think of the photographer Patrik svedberg’s Instagram @thebroccolitree. If you visit his page there is a link to a youtube video called, The Broccoli Tree: A Parable by the Vlogbrothers. It is only four minutes long, but an incredible story.

I encourage you to watch the Broccoli Tree: A Parable. It says it all and more! -

The thinking this week about seeds and growth leads me to ponder at the end of the week the importance of asking the question. Growth for what purpose? As we start to head out of the COVID restrictions, it is a question that I hope to keep front of mind as our “normal” life resumes.