Tropical South

August, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Flowers for Picking

Always have some flowers -- hibiscus, zinnias, gardenias, nasturtiums -- that children can pick, and let them know before they make an egregious mistake which blooms are for picking and that the orchids are untouchables. Kids learn that quickly and it saves grief for both parties. If you go with them a time or two, they will give you new ideas about what to pick for the house. Let them take some to a neighbor and learn the joy of giving.

Make Learning Easy and Fun

Teach children the names of flowers, trees, bugs, and birds when they are very young, a few at a time, and they will enjoy the process. Don't teach too much or too hard or give a test or you'll kill the fun. Let them collect bugs. Put a bit of nail polish remover on a tissue to turn a plastic mayonnaise jar into a merciful killing jar.

Add Treasures to the Garden

Add extra special things to the garden, like plants that attract butterflies. Kids will soon learn from watching you and will delight in finding eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises. Our Mike is currently fascinated by the fish in our rainbarrels. An observing eye is a grand thing to develop. So is creativity and serendipity. Take the kids to garage sales and hunt for unusual items to decorate the garden.

Keep Water Handy

Besides that water bottle for frequent drinking, keep a small bucket or such nearby as you garden. You'll have water handy to put on mosquito or fireant bites should you need it. If not, it is refreshing to dip your dirty hands into the water, and they'll make less mess when you dry them on your garden britches. If you're really smart, you'll take an old washrag along for drying.

Save Your Hoses

I\'m not neat enough to roll that hose up every time and have to unroll it to use it again, but I do pick it up in loops and pull them all into the shade. If you keep hoses out of the sun, they will last longer. Also, turn them off at the faucet. A hose-end turnoff is handy while you are watering, but if you leave all that pressure in the hose, it will soon sprout leaks.

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