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The Philosophical Gardener: Sowing a New Crop of Gardeners

By:  Maureen Miller, The Philosophical Gardener

Recently, I had a young mother helping me rescue my garden from Snowmageddon 2021. She is interested in plants, animals and just being outside. She wanted to work with me but didn’t have anyone to care for her 5-year-old son, so of course I said, “Bring him along.”

When they arrived, she set up a spot for him under the trees and handed him an electronic device. I asked if it was OK to see if he might like to garden instead. Looking surprised at the idea, she agreed.

He was quite curious about working with a new adult but after a while he seemed bored and wandered off. A little later he returned with a mischievous look on his face.  “Mith-es [Mrs] Maureen. You have leprechauns in your grass.”

“Oh.  You saw them, did you?  Were they by the purple or green oxalis? Oxalis looks a lot like shamrocks of their native homeland of Ireland, you know.”

Bingo! I had my hook to hold and expand his interest in gardening.

Together we spent the next hour carefully examining each sprout of new growth discussing and demonstrating root taps, stolon grasses, leaves-of-three, and the proper way to apply mulch.

It always amazes me (and did his mother as well) how much these little ones absorb when you introduce new concepts to them in an immersive environment. By the end of the day, he had a bouquet of yellow iris, purple oxalis and stories of leprechauns frolicking in his imagination. 

He came back for three more 5-hour-days with his mother, was good as gold and remembered many of the botanical and common names of the plants.

Maybe, just maybe, I planted a seed of gardening inspiration in this little one who will cultivate clusters of oxalis for the leprechauns to frolic about for the next generation after him.

Like a ship at the beginning of its voyage, a small nudge in direction can land it in an entirely new destination. Never underestimate the influence of your genuine interactions. You are planting seeds with each engagement.

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