In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
March, 2006
Regional Report

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Celebrate National Garden Month by planting a flower garden.

To Garden or Not to Garden; That is the Question

Is that a valid question? Indeed, for gardening enthusiasts and fanatics (and you know who you are), the response is most likely, "NO!" We think gardening is essential, perhaps not right up there with water, food, and shelter, but certainly tops on the list for one's happiness and peace of mind.

The questions we ponder fall along the lines of: How do I find more time to garden? Where did you find THAT plant and can I please have a cutting? Shall I go to the local botanical garden spring plant sale even though I don't need any plants? If I go, should I leave my wallet at home? If my resolve fails and I load up the trunk, I wonder if my spouse/significant other/big, strong neighbor will help dig transplant holes?

I can't recall a time when I didn't love plants and poking around in the soil. My dad was the vegetable gardener and my mom was in charge of the flowers. I flitted between the two, nabbing cherry tomatoes and picking pansies. Their houseplants were (and still are) enormous, enveloping the furniture they sit on. African violets the diameter of serving platters bloom energetically in their dining room. How could I not grow up liking plants?

There's no rule that says a person can't develop an interest in, or passion for, gardening later in life. Better late than never, right? But if you have the opportunity to share a bit of gardening experience with a child, don't pass it up. I know dozens of folks with childhood memories of gardening, whether with parents, grandparents, or neighbors who took an interest in them. They share these memories with fondness, sometimes wistfully, recalling sunny days playing hide-and-seek in rows of corn, inhaling the fragrance of roses planted beneath a bedroom window by a loving parent, or picking green beans with grandpa.

Share the Fun
April is National Garden Month. Why not celebrate the joy of gardening with a child in your life? Plant a special bed or container with plants guaranteed to captivate young senses. Here are some choices, with larger plants listed first, followed by smaller choices for limited space or containers.

Touch: Rub velvety soft leaves, such as superstition mallow (Abutilon palmeri) or lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina), between your fingers.

Scent: These two smell like their names say they should: Popcorn cassia (Cassia didymobotryna) and chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata).

Sound: Try tall clumping grasses that swish in the breeze, such as deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) or lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus).

Taste: Lots of choices here, but cherry tomatoes or baby carrots are always fun.

Sight: What child doesn't like sunflowers? Let the budding gardener choose the variety from a seed catalog or Web site. For an abundance of ideas for gardening with children, check out NGA's kid's gardening site at: http://www.kidsgardening.com/.

Happy National Garden Month!


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