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More Grows in the Garden...

More Grows in the Garden...

Molly writes:

“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows”
- Spanish Proverb

I have this quote hanging on the wall in my kitchen that my mom beautifully wrote, framed, and gifted to me for my birthday years ago. It hangs in spot where I see it frequently. Although I have looked at it almost daily and appreciated its beauty often, I never thought too much about the actual meaning behind the quote. I think I shrugged it off as a lovely quote about gardening. But then one day recently I read the quote again, and it seemed to have a new meaning.

My husband, Nick, plants a beautiful garden every year. It is amazing. It is his happy place. I love watching him care for the earth like it’s one of his children. Each year he prepares the land like a canvas and continues to work it carefully like a piece of art. Each day, it seems, he goes outside to listen to what the earth needs to tell him and then he carries on working together, like partners. As a gardener, you can have a rough idea of what you will plant and how you will arrange things, but in the end, you must also have open expectations as to how things will evolve. You must embrace the unexpected turns and obstacles that will very likely come your way. And when you learn to embrace all the parts of the process, they all seem to work hand in hand with the glory. Like they need one another to survive. When I watch Nick go out into the garden, I know that he gets so much more than a delicious tomato from the process. The garden becomes a teacher, a friend, a coach. The gardener walks away with patience, confidence, knowledge, appreciation, creative inspiration, general sense of calm and so on. And the proverb is clear, more (does) grow in the garden than the gardener sows.

On this day when I was pondering this quote, though it did make me think of Nick and his garden, it also made me think about practicing the Zentangle Method. We plant strokes of black ink on our tiles, one stroke at a time, slowly building patterns, and those patterns composing art. On the surface, it seems like just drawing, just like a garden might seem to some just like an arrangement of plants. However, when you take a closer look into the creator’s process, you understand there is so much more that is cultivated from this artform. For me, my Zentangle practice took years to speak to me. Or perhaps it took years for me to be ready to listen. When I finally did listen, I welcomed it with open ears and an open heart. I realized that my Zentangle art meant so much more than what one could see on the tile. My practice offered me a space to think. It redirected negative thoughts. It slowed down the clocks when life felt like it was racing. My practice made me feel confident in my own skin. My Zentangle practice offered me a space to feel creative at time when it felt lost. My Zentangle practice inspired me to try new things. It gave me perspective, allowing me to see situations differently than I had before. My Zentangle practice taught me to trust the process, and not dwell on what could or should have been done. It made me see that I can only focus on one stroke at a time. It taught me to let each stroke lead me to the next, on and off the tile.

My Zentangle practice allowed me to see the beauty in my art and myself.

Since I have been a part of the Zentangle community I have been inspired by so many other artists and their stories about creating with the Zentangle Method. I have learned so much from them and their processes. As I talk to these amazing Zentangle artists it has become clear that just like myself, people are getting much “more” from their Zentangle practice than just a drawing of black ink on white paper. The depth of what people are cultivating goes far beyond creating a piece of art.

What have you gained through your Zentangle practice? What has grown and continues to grow in your tangled garden? Let us know in the comments below and we will select a commenter at random to a custom piece of Zentangle art by Molly Hollibaugh featuring letting by Maria Thomas.

Molly Hollibaugh


  • Zentangle is a true friend always available, and comforting any time, day or night. Zentangle also fits in your pocket. You never feel anxious while waiting for an appointment.

    Crystal Bushinsky CZT38 on

  • What a coincidence! In my times of low mental health in Oct 2020, I had found two things: gardening and Zentangle.. I thought the obstacles were unpredictable, however if I have these two amazing tools with me, I can deal with everything peacefully. Zentangle gave me more than just a stable mental health. It gave me hope that if I could heal with it, then I could become a certified teacher and help thousands get the same benefit as me.. Forever grateful.🙂🙏🏽

    Sneha Mundhada on

  • Zentangle gave me hope for a future , in each stroke , in each moment, in each day, in each practice – and an overall peace, therefore, about the future, for which I knew nothing except that me and my pen would be there. Because of the Zentangle method, that’s proven more than enough for any obstacle I face.

    Deanna Nagle on

  • It is a real pleasure to continue to learn from the Master Gardeners who continue to sow seeds of inspiration!

    Katrina thiebaut on

  • Meeting Maria, Rick, Martha and Molly really came at exactly the right time for me. I met them at an event at 1440 shortly after the death of our daughter, Nisa. Nisa was to be at the event with me and when she passed suddenly I was certain I was going to cancel. Then something (I believe it was Nisa) told me I should go and honor her by doing what she would want me to do. Well, she was right. I met the family and my grief was lifted for the time I was with them. They are wonderful people and I will never forget how caring and embracing they were to me. Maria and myself had a lot in common as far as how many children we had, the age differences in the children, the fact that her wonderful daughters, Martha and Molly were close to my daughters age and well I can tell you I couldn’t have been in a better place. Rick, with his soothing, caring way will always hold a spot in my heart as well. So, for all of you, I can tell you that you have made the right decision and have come to right place by joining the Zentangle family. All my love, Jani

    Jani Romero on

  • Zentangl дал мне понимание, что на свете много очень хороших, добрых, творческих людей. Их разделяют границы и большие расстояния, но объединяет любовь к творчеству. Маленькие по размеру произведения искусства делают большое дело для каждого из нас. Ведь чем больше в мире красоты, тем меньше ужасного и неприглядного.

    Елена on

  • In each tile between ink and graphite are also planted many thoughts that I have while drawing – a lot of different ones. Seeds of thoughts. Some I can still recognize when I look at the tile again later.

    Claudia on

  • Not long after I began my Zentangle practice, I noticed a beautiful shadowbox in a local “art & home” store which read, “All my life I wanted to be an artist but did not envision many specifics about what that journey might look like. It was simply BE AN ARTIST.” I’ll never forget the flood of emotion that ran through me as I read that message again and again. The shadowbox has been hanging in my studio ever since … because it was Zentangle that finally fulfilled my lifelong desire to be an artist. I’ll be grateful to Rick and Maria, as well as to Molly and Martha, … always.

    Jan Brandt, CZT 12 on

  • Well said indeed! Oh my it’s like all of you have a spot in my head that records my impressions and sends them out to me again! With gratitude for zentangle and the whole community! Mary Ellen

    Mary Ellen Ziegler CZT 33 on

  • my zen garden is filled day by day with confidence, joy, inspiration and creativity … I am proud, happy and determined to hear what Zentangle has for me in my line, in my concentration and in my time

    carmela on

  • I have gained so much since I became certified back in September. I feel like I could write a book about how Zentangle changed my life and opened up a whole new world to me. I am a gardener, an artist and a teacher of art. The things I have gained through Zentangle is humility, acceptance and serenity. Sometimes in that order! LOL I have also gained new friends and a sense of community. I find I am constantly learning whether I am participating teaching or practicing. My plans and intentions must always be flexible because life is about change. In this way I allow for learning and growth. Thank you for this post and it will be repeated to my next class. What a great metaphor!

    Lynn Starnes,CZT 39 on

  • Thank you for all your blogs. zentangle helped me through so much in the last few years(Covid). I’m a zentangle teacher here in my town, and it has allowed me to connect with all like minded people. It helped me through very dark times. When I show up to my classes, a pease comes over me and the time really flys. I love to see what other students do and how happy it makes them. Thank you all for all you do

    Kothy Hafersat, CZT 17 on

  • Thank you for your lovely post. Sometimes we get more out of life when we let things incubate and grow. Your blog is such a great reminder of that! Your musings on gardening and Zentangle, two of my favorite things in life, are gratefully received. In so many ways they parallel each other in richness, creative, freeing and gifts that are not always apparent. I will read this blog over and over also for its depth. What a blessing your family is to so many. From the proverb to the calligraphy to the garden to the tangles and on and on….may continued abundance and blessings grow onto you and your family.

    Alice Steuck Konkel on

  • Kia ora from Aotearoa, New Zealand, about 5 years ago I was fortunate to attend zentangle lessons, it brought about a spiritual calmness, as an artist and doodler of many years It gave meaning to every part of my life, it gave me inspiration to do art every day, I give it away to people who otherwise could never afford art, each day brings new ideas. This has saved me from at times wanting to end my life. My teenage niece who has tried to end her life on some occasions has been hospitalised for treatment, I posted all the equipment she will need including books to learn zentangle to lift her spirits and regain her health, she loves art and craft, I hope she does well. Arohanui, ( with love).

    Helen Baker on

  • Zentangle is a garden. Every week I wander through the garden of the Zenthologyy, finding what is ready for me to pick and use in my weekly class tile. I always find deeper inspiration there. Sometimes it is a. Tangle that reminds me there are no mistakes . (Tee hee) Thanks

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • A beautiful tile, verse and blog message. Yes indeed, Zentangle has been cultivated in my household and garden as I have been cultivated and grown with Zentangle. From timid, shy, unconfident strokes to just slow myself down, to creative art, becoming a CZT, embracing the “C” time to undertake study and tick off my Visual Arts Certification and on to teaching in my local community. I am flourishing, blossoming and flouting my love and continued joy of the Zentangle Method and it is starting to ripple out to others in my little pond of life. Thanks to the Zentangle Family and all you do to nourish, feed and support all Zentanglers, Zentomologists and Zentangling gardeners in the world of the Zentangle Garden. We love it and are thriving for more. So much Gratitude to all x

    Veronica Hodges on

  • Molly,

    I just read your blog post about finding new meaning in the gardening proverb, and the many heartfelt responses from all over the world. Altho I am not a gardener, I appreciate the beauty all the gardeners bring into my world thru their efforts. And the same goes for Zentangle. I appreciate the calm, peace, and joy it brings to me every single day. I am also inspired daily by the tangles of others.
    But your post has even more meaning for me today. It just happened to coincide with my first day teaching Zentangle. I taught two classes, at the local art museum where I volunteer. The morning class was a group of my fellow docents. This afternoon I taught two children, ages 5 and 7 (the only homeschool children brave enough to risk the wrath of Winter Storm Brenda). Both groups tangled Lesson One from the Zentangle Primer, Vol 1. While the tiles all these tanglers created were similar, I was not surprised to see each artist had tangled things a little differently. I had encouraged the docents to give free reign to their inner child while tangling, and they obviously did! When I read this blog it reminded me that the result of the efforts of my students became a beautifully varied mosaic. I like to think I planted some Zentangle seeds today. Can’t wait to see how this garden grows!

    Jessica Dykes CZT39 on

  • Thanks for your lovely blog. Heartfelt joy & inspiration happily received!

    Rimona Gale on

  • Love your entry about Nick and gardening as it relates to growth and tangling, Molly. Beautiful telling of your mother’s loving and personal gift of a beautiful, blooming, drawing and equally so, quote. What a beautiful family you all make. Thank you for your gift of expression in all its forms.

    Theresa Caillouette, CZT32 on

  • This is such a beautiful post. I loved reading this quote. For me the zentangle practice has helped to let go of perfection and to embrace the “imperfection” that comes through the pen. Like a garden, each stroke has a life and character of its own.

    Suchitra Komandur on

  • I know a landscape designer who uses a technique for flower beds called mosaic planting … It’s like Zentangling in dirt with flowers and shrubs as the tangles. It’s wonderful. I’m trying it in my front yard using the Zentangle Method to create a colorful perennial border, adding things as the seasons change. I can’t wait to see how it grows!

    Ann Baum on

  • Zentangle found me as I was tilling a fresh soil…widowhood. It provided a gentle landscape to explore while expressing my grief, a love that had no place to go, to someplace new.

    Your beautiful proverb speaks to that! As my outdoor garden is waking from winter I am anxious to feel and to work the soil. To coax brilliant, nourishing new life from it. Through winter, each tile, or project pack, has provided the soil for my inner growth. Each different color tile offers a different surface, pH, if you will, for my creativity to massage. The sizes and shapes of the tiles, are genus’ to be cultivated. Each tool or medium: micron, jelly roll, embossing stylus, tombow, watercolor, etc., from nib size, line weight, or color becomes a new seed to plant! The beauty and peace that grows in my Zentangle garden I nurture year round. It is fearless of making mistakes, hydrated one stroke at a time, in a single precious moment, with love and gratitude for what is and whatever else is to come.

    Anna Vermillion-Hoss on

  • Through my Zentangle practice I have gained a way to be totally in the present moment. Knowing I can always pick up a pen and paper whenever I want helps my continued process to grow peace within.

    Jackie on

  • Thank you. Really beautiful post.

    Georgianna Klein on

  • Last month, I had to make the terrible decision to put my best friend to sleep. He was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw. He lasted much longer than the vet expected. I was beside myself with grief. I picked up my sketchbook and started tangling again. It was so calming to feel the pen on the paper, just watch the strokes change the paper from drab to amazing. The 1st week after loosing him I must have done at least a half dozen pages of tangles. I even picked up my watercolor pallet to add color to my pieces. Thank you so much Rick, Maria, Molly, Martha and Julie for your wonderful teaching and sharing of this process.

    Donna Dillman-Butler on

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