Day 31: Winter garden

A garden for the kids is one of our projects this year. There’s a place in the front where nothing has grown successfully. A tree was cut down there before we bought the house, and part of the trunk is still under the surface. A juniper that I planted our first summer here died this year, and there were some old scraggly azaleas and half-dead perennials that I’d planted in previous years. I cleared all of that out to make space for a new garden, something that we can give a lot of love to this year.

The kids want to 1) grow flowers, 2) grow things that will feed butterflies and birds, and 3) grow things that are native to our area. Goals 2 and 3 are my larger goals for our property, and I’ve talked to the kids about that here and there over the years, but I was (of course) very pleased to realize that they have really been listening! Obviously, we want to focus on getting perennials or self-seeding annuals so the kids can see their plants come back year after year. Nothing feels better than that, or offers a better opportunity to appreciate the cycle of life.

I have two additional considerations for their garden: I want to plant different things that bloom at staggered times year-round, so they can always see something going on, and I want to include spring bulbs. Because nothing is more amazing at the end of winter than seeing those shocking green shoots push out of the ground. Bulbs are a miracle.

The first thing the kids did was buy a native aster at a plant sale by the Butterfly Society. We planted that in the front, and I used some pavers (given to us by neighbors who were making changes in their yard) to make a walkway through their garden area. I couldn’t put one of the pavers down because of an old tree root, though.

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Next the kids picked out two pansies and a mum at a church plant sale at our co-op. Not native or particularly useful to wildlife, but pretty over the winter. And I took the kids to our lovely local garden shop to pick out 10 daffodil bulbs. But that’s as far as we got, and for a couple of weeks the plants have just been sitting out in front in their pots.

But today was in the 60s, and the last warm day in the forecast, so we needed to get our gardening done. Amazingly, I manage to pull out the obstructing tree root–6 feet of it!–with my bare hands, impressing the kids and the lady across the street, I believe. So I put down our last paver, and we planted our flowers and our bulbs. The kids watered everything down with the hose, and we’ll mulch the area this weekend.

It is a very modest beginning for a garden, but it is theirs.

After we finished, the kids played out back for a bit while I took a shower, and Boy raked up some leaves on his own, filling half a yard bag. Then I gave them baths and lunch, and we went to violin, and to the library to return some things and meet our friends. The kids got to play out back of the library on what they call ‘The Twisted Tree,’ a fallen down tree by the water that’s still alive, wonderful to climb on and around. Then home. Then ballet. Then dinner. Then story. Then bed.

Another Wednesday.

And tomorrow will be cold, but the kids can go check on their winter garden in the morning and see how it’s faring.

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