• Cecilia Macaulay

The Sandpit of Dreams


Plan for my Annandale garden, made of flour and flowers.

The gap between where you are and where you want to be, its too big. If you are making the most of your short time on this planet, you should dream spectacular things. Afterwards, it will look so easy it seemed inevitable you would make this lovely thing happen. But on the other side of creating, beforehand, that gap looked like a crevass of disappointment you would fall down and never get out of.


Thats why you need a sandpit. You need a playful way to practice your dream, make it real in primative, first-draft form. Make it three-dimensional, so you can see it from up and left and right. Then your brain believes your dream is real. Is seen it! It starts trawling the world for the ingredients, and brains, being geniuses compared to us, can make all sorts of things true, once you give them the instructions in the proper way.

To become who you want to be, do fancy dress. To have a difficult conversation turn out, practice it on your sister. To make an unimaginably wonderful garden out of your landlords wasteland, make it with flour in a baking dish. Play with putting the lemon tree here, or there. Make swale trenches where water will soak in with a line of sugar. Do the fire pit in matches, and the chicken coop from cinnamon sticks.


I started the garden at the edges, so I didnt get confronted and discouraged by the huge rock-and-clay catastrophe that was our garden. Then one day I dug up the native sedge I'd been propagating, the compost I'd been making, and just plonked it all in the center, like in my flour model. Suddenly, I knew things. I knew we didn't need stepping stones. A peaceful, quiet lawn for picnics and kissing on, thats what we wanted. I knew we needed raised beds here, not there. Housemate Toby saw that the verandah bushes blocking the view had to go, and we said 'you are right', and got the spade to it one minute later. We saw how wonderful and secure it feels it is when the land isn't sloping away, and that gave our bodies the energy to do the digging, make the terraces, and build up the soil at the back...we buried the scary spikey palm trees we cut down, and they became the secure back of the garden bed.


You have to move the pieces about to find the best place, but don't move ponds and boulders. Move lollies that are pretending to be boulders, glass pretending to be ponds.


All professional designers work like this, with sandpits and models and pretending, like children. Not commercial landscapers can do it with pen and paper, because they do it every day, smother whats existing with purchased stuff, to a pre-decided plan.


Its not wasted work to have practices, iterations. Its the only way to make something truly new.


So what will I do a practice of this week that want, but have never done before?

Ill think about it.













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Cecilia Macaulay All Rights Reserved