Plagiarize this garden!

Inspiration. That’s what I choose to call it when I visit a gorgeous garden and try to replicate it in my own backyard. A particularly nice garden tour was the inspiration for my latest project; turning the shady tomato bed into a hosta garden.

Since there will not be enough shade (nor enough funds) to put 600 varieties of hostas into that space, mine will be a miniature version of what I saw. I’m sure the owner of that inspirational garden won’t mind my being a copycat.

Much has been said in the past few days about using words and phrases that have been used by someone else.

I’m not going to downplay the seriousness of real plagiarism. Imagine my shock after writing an article about the Newtown, Connecticut shootings to see somebody publish the column almost verbatim. The references to my growing up nearby were deleted, so it wasn’t a case of just passing it along and forgetting to say it wasn’t his work.

That is patently wrong.

On other occasions, I have seen articles that were very similar to some that I’ve written in terms of scriptures used and the points being made. On the flip side, I’ve found those same types of articles dated BEFORE mine were. I’ve taken inspiration from comments that friends have made, classes I’ve taken, and other writers.

It is not my intent to plagiarize, nor do I believe that most others do.

But if a point is worth making, it might be worth making it twice – or more – even by different people and at different times. For that matter, I’ve even found myself writing something similar to one of my previous columns!

The adage is usually true, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” It is a joy to observe a new gardener using the same plant combinations that she saw in my garden. Of course, no garden can ever be an exact duplication of another, but some elements can be imitated. My birdhouse collection is one that I borrowed from my friend Robin.

Some gardens are so inspirational that I am left wanting the exact same garden!

One element that I have been trying to copy is the pruning skill of my friend Angie. She has done amazing things with those wild cedar trees that grow everywhere in this part of the country. Angie trims them carefully until they resemble ducks or horses or even whimsical ball shapes floating above her colorful gardens.

What do my cedars look like at this point, after two years? Very ugly. I have been too fearful to effectively use the pruners, even though Angie graciously showed me how she creates her masterpieces.

Maybe I’m not very good at plagiarism, at least not the garden variety. But like most gardeners, I inadvertently borrow many good things that I admire in others.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once lamented, “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”

One of those “ancients” that predated Emerson was Solomon. He said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9b).

Whether it is color combinations in the flower beds or lessons from the scriptures, we may borrow ideas from each other or think of them independently of one another.

In all of our endeavors, let’s glorify God.

We are encouraged to model the behavior of good Christians around us (1 Corinthians 11:1, Hebrews 6:12.)

We imitate God, and are transformed into his image (Ephesians 5:1, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Romans 12:2).

There is a reason for imitation, and that is to share what is good.

Share your thoughts: