Thursday, September 23, 2010

Outdoor Classrooms are for Learning

Mrs. Glawe's 3rd Grade Students

With school back in full swing, we have several classroom visits on the calendar. The BCIG 3rd graders were morning guests last week. We postponed a day because of the weather forecast but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the 60+ children who arrived! Divided into three groups the elementary children enjoyed three garden stations. Jack highlighted some of our children's theme gardens including Emily's Kinder-garden (Flowers for each letter of the Alphabet), Tyler's Barnyard Garden (Flowers that share common farm animal names - hen and chicks, lamb's ear, cockscomb, horseradish, etc) and the Garden Among Friends (Flowers that share their names with women: Melissa, Veronica, Iris, Heather, Rose, Lily, etc. and some boy names too: Jack in the Pulpit, Johnny Jump Ups, and Sweet William to name a few). They tickled the sensitive plants and noted the flowers of their birthright in the Calendar Garden. In the Herb Garden, I shared some of the charming folklore and legend of herbs. In the Medicinal Garden, the children saw how Aloe can heal and the Vick's plant offered a familiar scent that they were quick to identify. The Culinary Garden gave them an opportunity to taste the sweetness of Stevia and sniff the fresh leaves of sage, basil and chives. Each teacher also led her group on a butterfly chase and the children managed to gather a dozen monarchs to take back to their classroom to study. The children also took time to gather seeds for their own flower garden next spring. Many of the "pass-along" annual seeds were ripe for the taking and we are happy to spread some of those old-fashioned, non-hybrid seeds throughout the area. If the kids remember to put their seed sacks in a cold, dry spot for the winter, they will be viable and ready to plant by the time the dismissal bells ring out next spring!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Flower Harvest

It’s September already! A change of seasons is just around the corner and Mother Nature is dropping hints of fall all around us. Leaves have begun to lose their green intensity and the garden’s green hues are flirting with shades of yellow and red. Fall berries are settling on the hawthorns and viburnums. Walnuts plummet from the treetops with every gust of wind and the squirrels scurry to carry them away before we can gather them ourselves. The hummingbirds are back at the garden and dart from flower to flower with a sense of urgency that Jack Frost will soon steal away their favorite flowers. Use these final weeks of summer to dry floral bouquets to enjoy throughout the winter. Our red velvet cockscomb is larger than ever, and the plants can barely hold their heads upright. Hydrangea blooms are plentiful and should be harvested when they feel papery. Gather handfuls of herbs and their aroma will linger on your palms and fill your drying rooms with intoxicating fragrances that make the chore worthwhile. Many herbs have everlasting qualities: try rosemary, lavender, burnet, and tansy for guaranteed success. We have a new drying shed - a much smaller space than what we once filled with everlastings, but it’s a charming space and great addition to the acreage. Garden visitors still like to see a flower harvest underway and we hope to keep the building filled with a little (quantity) of a lot (of variety). We are in the process of selecting a paint color for the exterior and hope to have the shed spruced up in the next few weeks and landscaped with new shrubs and perennials. Check back soon to see what color we choose…I currently have three favorites: Hope Chest, Tempest Rumor or Taupestone. More photos coming soon!