This weekend is Art in the Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

We always make it a point to go see all the inventive people there with their works of art and other creations. In the past there have been sculptures made from metal, wood, even birdseed! It is always fun to see the different types of clothes, jewelry, paintings, photographs, ceramics, food, music and other items. There are many expressions of people’s creativity.

That got us thinking about whether there is a trait that many, maybe even most, people have that are creative. As we pondered that question, we both agreed that curiosity might be the common link among people who are creative.

We can easily imagine each artist, writer, photographer and designer asking themselves the question, “What if?” What if I were to do it this way, say it this way, build it this way? You get the picture. Their sense of curiosity causes them to ask that important question, “What if?”

This question then leads them, inspires them, maybe even compels them, to start, once again, on a path full of twists and turns, where they eventually reach their destination of a completed idea or project. A result that had its conception from a simple two-word question — “What if?”

Here’s a thought. In 1956, the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis was faced with a large need to research plants that would be suitable for not just growing, but also surviving, in the harsh northern climate. We can imagine them asking the question, “What if?” What if we were to approach the Minnesota State Horticultural Society about them developing an arboretum?

They did, and as a result, an option was taken on 160 acres of land near the University of Minnesota Garden Club. In 1958, the land was purchased with the help of a gift from the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, and it was then given to the University. This became the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum — all because of some people becoming curious and asking, “What if?”

From that humble beginning, the Arboretum has become not only a national cultural destination, but also an international research center that impacts the lives of people all over the world.

For the second year, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has been named as the best botanical garden by USA Today Reader’s Choice.

The Arboretum has now grown to over 1,200 acres, with a membership of more than 27,000 households, and has 560,000 visitors annually. It also has 1,200-plus wonderful volunteers and a dedicated staff. The Arboretum has become one of the premier horticultural areas in the nation. Pretty amazing, considering it started with some creative people with curiosity asking, “What if?”

Edward de Bono is a creative thinking expert. He’s also a physician, psychologist, author and consultant. He said, “Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns to look at things in a different way.” The Arboretum evolved through creatively exploring alternatives.

Being curious, we wondered what others might think contributes to creativity. At the Arboretum, we talked to Jordan residents, Scott and Leah Gregoria. Leah said, “I love to come to the Arboretum to stimulate creativity. I love how it changes with all the seasons. I’m a teacher and so I have the summers off. I love to come here in the mornings and take walks. And when you come in the evening, there’s always something a little bit different then, too. I really do enjoy how it all changes. It is my happy place!”

Scott agrees that it is her happy place. He said, “We joke, her real happy place is Disney at the Magic Kingdom. But, for her, around here, this is it! It’s kind of like you’re in Munchkinland or something. It’s just nature, different angles of the sun, the different beauty of the flowers and the different seasons. It’s just so beautiful — it refreshes you! It refreshes your soul!” We thanked Scott and Leah for sharing their ideas about creativity.

What about you? What contributes to your creativity? What if you were to ask yourself, “What If?”

Maybe you have an idea not fleshed out yet; a project you are thinking about; a gift or talent you have not developed; even a situation that could be better. Ask yourself, “What if?” Then take action to let your curiosity and creativity flourish.

We encourage you to let us know what changes happen in your life as you risk stepping into the unknown with “What if?”

And we look forward to seeing you at Art in the Garden!

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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