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I love this spot in our somewhat un-kept yard; it is my canvas of creativity, my place of pondering and my homeschooling laboratory . It is a hobby project that never arrives at being finished, but is an unending task of creating, digging, weeding, watering, planting and getting dirty. For years I have carved into this rocky soil. I have brought in truck loads of dirt, bags of peat, wheelbarrows of compost and chicken manure. I have gathered rocks from our property, been given rocks and even made cement rocks to form a path for little feet to walk on. This little garden started as a butterfly shaped flower garden full of flowers,some 17 or 18 years ago, by my first born son; our humble attempt to grow something in this rocky soil. It then expanded into a sensory experience garden for my son with Down syndrome; He would be able to sit and smell the herbs, touch them and pick them and even eat them. A sand box in the middle where he could sit and play and feel the sand through his fingers and hear the birds and watch the butterflies flutter by. He sat mostly~ he learned to scoot as a toddler, but never crawled. My vision of his little feet pitter-pattering through the paths didn’t really ever come to fruition; He did not walk until he was 6 years old and needed much support on the uneven surface.
But what a delight this little spot has been for all of our children. A therapy for myself, a never-ending summer project that keeps me outside near the children, a stone’s throw away, as they play and swim. It has grown both food and flowers, flowers that have been bouquets for friends or for our evening dinner table, flowers pressed for cards, made into daisy chains or used to tell stories of old.
The herbs used for tea, cooking or stuck in a vase to adding beauty and a refreshing smell to a room and even sprigs of fennel to chew on with a sweet, licorice flavor our: “garden candy”. There are bird houses that have housed a nest of violet green swallow-tails almost every year and the red bee balm and hollyhocks that grow tall in late summer that become a playground for hummingbirds and butterflies who flit from flowers to flower in the hot summer days. The rocks a hidden haven for bugs to live.turned over for observation by a young child whose heart is full of wonder of God’s glorious creation. Green bean tee pee and sunflowers, to find shade under and strawberries to nibble and cherry tomatoes to eat hot off the vine unwashed dusted with a bit of healthy dirt.
My garden is a continuous mess. There are always weeds growing in the path and a wheel barrow and garden tools and hoses lain in various places always in the way due to interrupted work;it seems they never find that finished placed. An empty hole in the middle where a small pond once was lies empty waiting for a new liner and baby gold-fish. Part of the stone path is still undone, just dirt, dust and weeds. But my garden is still a place of peace and delight. It is imperfect. It was never meant to become a manicured spot of perfection. I am sure there are those who look at my “garden of weeden” and see the mess and the undone, but when one looks very closely, there is beauty among-st the weeds, thorns, stones and dreams. A playground for children. A garden they can run through, pick from, dig in and enjoy. I have always loved that about my garden. No straight rows to stay off of, but a place they can discover, imagine and play. Sometimes all a child needs to learn is a place where he can make observations and delight in. My imperfect garden has always been the perfect fit for us; a discovery center of living science and a play ground full of dirt, rocks, bugs, birds, worms, snakes, frogs and plants. A place to learn and love the beauty of God’s creation. Where it is OK to touch, make observations, smell, taste and a place to get your hands dirty where one can fall in love with the amazing idea that when you plant a tiny seed….God makes it grow!
Some of our favorite gardening and nature books: