In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2006
Regional Report

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Even though this was written when she was four, Meg's presence in the garden is still my most precious jewel. (Translated: "Peter Rabbit, don't come here.")

Children Are Precious Garden Inhabitants

Gardening with my daughters by my side is such fun that when I happen to have the "alone" day off while they are in school, I miss them terribly. Of course, I'm much more productive when I work alone, but the life and giggles are missing. When my children are in the garden with me, the world seems right. It's why I garden.

Often, when I'm working in the vegetable garden, they will hang around but not participate until I start giggling (usually at nothing), or become engrossed at ground level with a worm. Then their curiosity takes over and they come trooping into the garden.

My kids have now become regular inhabitants of the garden, I think because they see how much I enjoy it. I let them help with the garden plans in winter, so the garden becomes their own. One of my fondest evening activities is to sit down with them and the catalogs to talk and dream about the summer garden.

They are already planning this year's gardens, and have even come out to start clearing their individual beds of the leftover marigold and pea vines. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and even though getting the garden ready for planting can be a daunting task, with their chatter and happy attitude, I can't help but enjoy myself.

They are getting old enough now to talk about the natural cycles of life in the garden, and are even tolerant when I declare war on the slugs or aphids. They are both lovers of all creatures, and after years of teaching them not to hurt creatures, they are now beginning to understand that sometimes you just have to smash the "bad" guys.

There is a world of interesting things in the vegetable and flower gardens to intrigue children, and even though they are at the sophisticated old ages of eight and ten, they still love to go out at night with a flashlight to see the world in a different sort of way.

The most special evenings are nights when bedtime is cast aside and they get to stay up well after dark for firefly chasing or to smell the nicotiana or moonflowers that release exquisite fragrance in the evening to attract night-flying pollinators. I can hardly wait until we can sit together in the swing in the soft summer night and reflect on what we did in the garden that day. With my girls by my side, my world is complete.


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