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Year of the Garden

Category: Where The Child Things Are
Posted: April 23, 2019

By: Christina Keasler, Youth Department Assistant Director and Youth Technology Librarian

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I declared that 2019 would be the Year of the Garden. I refer to our home as Jumanji. We inherited a lot of perennials when we bought it that have gone rogue over the years. It’s been a losing battle. Ants have taken over the pots in the center of our front yard. Baby maple trees are our most common weed, tied with the angry prickly stalks. We have won a few skirmishes, particularly the week long struggle of removing the stump that we called “the Lorax tree.” Overall, I think the final nail in the coffin was the raccoon that helped himself to the birdseed inside our house.

So, the Year of the Garden. As you may have concluded, we have our work cut out for us. I preordered enough plants to ensure a fortress of flowers, but there’s a lot more to it than buying things that look pretty.

You may know to order plants that grow in your climate zone. But you should also find plants that are native to the area. You may have flowers that are great for butterflies and other pollinators, but if they’re not native, your flower friends may avoid them anyway. It’s also important to wait to clear last year’s debris until the weather is warm enough. Some insects will hibernate in hollow stalks through the cold months.

Don’t fret, you won’t have to do this solo. Gardening is a wonderful activity for the whole family. Not only can it teach your children the life cycle of a plant, it can also show them where food comes from. Talk to your little one about their senses as they squish the mud (or taste, if you’re my kid, apparently), smell the flowers, or maybe hear the birds chirping outside. Digging, pinching small seeds, and handling sprouts engage and strengthen motor skills. Count seeds! Sing to plants! You can’t go wrong.

There are many books here at the library that can enhance an outdoor lesson with your family. Be sure to check these out:

Wildlife Gardening by Martyn Cox

Gardening by Judith Heneghan

The Gardening Book by Jane Bull

Creative Gardening: Growing Plants Upside Down, In Water, and More by Lisa J. Amstutz

Edible Gardening: Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and More by Lisa J. Amstutz

300 Step-By-Step Cooking & Gardening Projects for Kids by Nancy McDougall

Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun by Whitney Cohen

GEPL has plenty of nature-inspired programming to take advantage of, too. Come to the popular Nature Telling storytimes, nature-themed STEM Club, and Podcast Picnic. You can view the full calendar here.

So get out there and get growing! Then tell us all about it.