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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 my daily “grounding”. I love it! It is spiritual, comforting, and it encourages creative expansion. What would I do without it.

    Clara A Brunk on

  • Well said Molly! Being a lifelong gardener, following in the steps of my mother before me, I can see so many similarities between gardening and the art of Zentangle. Both bring me joy, contentment, a sense of accomplishment and creativity, and peace of mind. As my years on this earth pile up behind me, and the aches and pains from gardening increase, I am slowly transitioning from less gardening to more Zentangle. Perhaps this is the reason I discovered this art form. Mother Nature and God always have a plan!

    Carol R. on

  • You summed it up perfectly. My Zentangle practice is a place/time in which nothing else matters. The rest of the world will have to take care of itself for a time. The gratitude portion of the practice inevitably leads to appreciation of more than just drawing but also recognition of my many blessings throughout every day, even when they are combined with things I might not have chosen. Thank you for all you do (along with all the other teachers and providers). Truly couldn’t make it without you!

    Linda Friedly on

  • Love your message & the quote Molly! I think what I gained most is that I’ve actually become an artist! (And it took an awfully long time for me to acknowledge that fact)

    I’m not old, but I’ve been young for a verrrry long time 🤣 & never before in my life could I draw even a stick figure. Now my beautiful works of art have become my Zentangle garden.

    Jan ~Sailandbejoyful~ on

  • Beautiful quote… practice Zentangle helps me to calm my mind… relax my thoughts and contribute also in learning how to manage illnes & pain

    Secondly but not less important it conects me with a Beautiful & grateful people in this community which one has a great history or reason to practice Zentangle

    And the last reminds me that the importante to live now, not yesterday or tomorrow

    Nice to writte it because it made me to think about it

    Meritxell Torrent on

  • I’ve embraced the “letting go” of the “no mistakes” mantra. The metaphors for living that Zentangle has bestowed upon those that have taken the time to learn the Zentangle method continues to amaze me. Planting that seed in others gives me great joy.

    Jeanne on

  • My zentangle practice has allowed me to cultivate confidence, push through self doubt and form connections with family (my sister is my zentangle buddy) and globally

    Susan Arnsten-Russell on

  • Zentangle gave me
    1. relaxing and good nights’ sleep
    2. de-stressing activity
    3. a whole new world
    4. with a big new creative family :-D first CZT’s, second all tangle-fans :-D
    Great perspective the garden quote! <3

    ArjadLH, CZT9, Elefantangle on

  • I learned through the Zentangle that at any age you can make your life open up to other perspectives (like turning a tile and discovering another perspective). That this is a path where you don’t know the end, but you can trust the process. That the mistake can become a new thing to discover. That every trait is connected in some way to the others, as is every encounter in our daily lives. That looking at the drawing opens my eyes to the world. And so many other things that it would take pages and pages to say, especially since this is not finished, like the shading that allows to bring to light. Gratitude, gratitude

    Monique Schneider CZT on

  • So much has grown in my Zentangle garden since I started in 2013. Self love, compassion, patience, slowing down, acceptance, gratitude and appreciation, to name just a few. My outdoor garden is my sanctuary, my gym, my lab, my studio, my place of worship, my therapist’s couch. I guess, all that’s true for my tiles, too! Thank you for this wonderful post.


  • Beautiful quote that make you pause and reflect. Zentangle gives me peace and helps me de-stress. I always feel calm and ready to face what comes next after I’ve spent a little time with my tangles.

    Nancy on

  • Thank you, Molly, for this beautifully written message. It is the time of year to begin thinking of what I will plant in pots on my deck: tomatoes, various flowers, and this year I’m adding bell pepper plants. I appreciate the “planting, growing, tending” process, and it takes me back to when I had someone plow my garden with a tractor each year. My gardening is much different now, yet the excitement and joy of it remains. The rewards indeed include more than the harvest of fruit and vegetables. I appreciate that you compared Zentangle to the gardening process. For me, the first “seed” of Zentangle was it being advertised in a magazine about wood burning/pyrography. From that first introduction, I began researching learning and practicing, and within the year became a CZT. I’ve tangled on planes, in hospitals, in a hospice room keeping the vigil for my father and years later my mother, at picnic tables, and my home studio and more. I’m still planting the seeds and reaping the “harvest” of the process itself and the peace, mindfulness, awareness, healing, and contentment it brings. And, I feel blessed to have shepherded students toward their own Zentangle journey. A big thank you to all of you at Zentangle HQ!

    Carolyn Thomas CZT on

  • Molly, I love your post and the beauty it sends out! My Zentangle practice has opened me back up to a full fledge art practice that I had abandoned when I went off to college. It has also been the ONLY thing I have ever found that allows me to quiet my racing thoughts. It’s become a healing practice and a window to so much other beauty and wonder in my life! I am forever grateful for discovering Zentangle. It’s brought a joy to my life that is beyond words! 😊

    Deborah Collins, CZT33 on

  • I love this Spanish Proverb! The practice of Zentangle has brought peace, creativity and joy to my garden of life like never before

    Mary McAllister on

  • I lov

    Mary McAllister on

  • I often refer to “planting a seed.” I do this with kids to give them a taste of “something” that may grow into “something more” or it may wither. Had I not planted the seed that introduced “something” to the child, they may never have had the chance to see if belonged in their life. I enjoy doing the same with Zentangle. I abandon art tiles and bookmarks with the Zentangle website on the back. I show my work to friends. I teach tangling to those interested. For some, it’s (sadly) “one and done”, for others, it’s the start of their own journey. I personally stumbled onto Zentangle about 8 years ago by accident. It was one of those forays down the rabbit hole of Pinterest. I saw Zentangle art, I checked into it and I’ve loved it ever since. I don’t know who randomly planted that Pinterest seed for me but I’m really glad I found it so it could grow.

    Holly C on

  • So beautifully written Molly! Love this quote! My favourite thing to draw are tangled gardens. They always bring back beautiful memories of time spent with my mom in our humungous garden on our farm. I gardened with her from a very young age, growing vegetables, fruits and flowers. I feel so fortunate to have found the Zentangle Method and am now able to draw my tangled gardens since I can’t garden much myself anymore, although I do have plants and flowers in my home. Thank you for the nice memories!

    Brenda shaver on

  • Zentangle to me is peace.

    Peace in my brain, peace in my heart, usually peace around me when I do it. It brings me joy and happiness. And had brought me new friends too!! How great is that ❤️

    Missy Keller on

  • Molly you articulated that very well. Zentangle for me has been a calm in a storm….. My husband was very ill and taking him to treatments and Dr appointments, endless hours in waiting rooms, waiting for answers, Zentangle kept me calm. Then as his condition progressed and the endless hours of care , if only for a few minutes… Zentangle kept me focused.

    When he passed, my heart needed to heal and Zentangle again was there to help me deal with my emotions and loss, helping me to maintain a steady foot forward whenever I needed it and helped me thru the grieving process. Making me stop and focus on something other than the details of medical bills, legal issues, and final arrangements.
    Its been 18 months since my husband passed, but I still miss him. But Zentangle is there for me when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, bringing peace and focus when I need it to keep moving forward. It takes you to a place away from the tough moments in life so you can come back a little more sure of yourself and ready to face the challenges life gives you. Plus you get a wonderful piece of art to enjoy.

    Mary Ann K Sudduth on

  • My Zentangle journey initially started during the Covid 19 lockdown. I am originally a Stained/Fused Glass artist but was having difficulty getting my supplies, getting inspiration etc. during that time as I do not find that working with stained/fused glass offers me relaxation or appreciation. Stained glass needs so much time and hard work to complete with little gratification once done. Don’t’ get me wrong…it’s beautiful when its complete but it’s such a long journey to get there. I needed a new outlet for my creativity. Something that offered quicker artistic pleasure. A friend recommended that I look into Zentangle. On my gosh, I fell in love with this art medium the minute I used the pen! I can relax when drawing, I’m excited to begin and get so much out of doing it. Zentangle has become my passion. I totally understand the statement above…I do get so much more out of Zentangle than what ‘grows in the garden and the gardiner sows’.

    Dianne Riva Cambrin on

  • Most of my gardening now, in my later years, is pot gardening around my apartment.

    Having something living and green dotted about my home here is such an important thing. Especially in March in the midwest while we wait a LONG time for spring. This year I was introduced to “praying plants”. They automatically fold up at night (looking for all the world like hands in prayer" and pop open again in the morning. They look a lot of "Flux"with beautiful dark green veins!
    Molly’s garden thoughts are apt and beautiful. And as I have taught Zentangle for many years…I have many folks to write to me and share stories like that with me. I am so blessed to be able to pass on this wonderful “practice” to others. I count this gift to me and to them as one that makes my life special.

    Ginny Stiles CZT 15 on

  • My recovery from severe career ending burnout came largely through Zentangle and nature. When people ask me what I do I always say I am an artist and I thank Zentangle for this transformation which started with pen and tile and no expectations. Truly I am a recipient of growing more than I sowed.

    Deb Murray CZT30 on

  • Molly, how beautifully you expressed what Zentangle means to me, and to countless others! The Zentangle process and community have enriched my life so much! Thank you all!

    Beth Gaughan on

  • As we have begun planning our gardens for springtosummertofall, this blog reminds me how reflective my Zentangle practice is of my life. No mistakes, turn your (s)tyle, one stroke at a time…I learn, I change, I grow. Just like my gardens. Just like my latest tile. Just like my life. So greatfull!

    MarthaCZT28 on

  • Thank you for this, Molly. You say it so well. The Zentangle practice has truly changed my life is all the ways you mention. Rediscovering my own creativity has been a joy. And the opportunity to share it with others through teaching this process and sharing my own art is such a wonderful way to remember that we are all creators, gifted in unique ways. I’m incredibly grateful.

    Diane Harpster on

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