One thing I love about older paintings is that they don't look like they were done from photos. I've realised that I like the non-photo aesthetic and so have started trying to draw more from life where I can. Mostly I've been drawing plant-life from small clippings and pot plants. So far it's working well. During the day I go for a walk and scout out the various plants hanging over fences or by the train track, then go back at night (under the cover of darkness :) with a pair of scissors.
If I had my own garden I think I would use it to cultivate plants specifically for the purpose of drawing them.