Getting to Know Our Garden

“Now, my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden…”

Last week we were reading Peter Rabbit, and many children were fascinated with it!

While on a walk last week, Mrs. Rabbit’s clear boundaries came to mind when we noticed that children weren’t aware of which natural items are acceptable to use for making “chocolate soup” (dirt, fallen leaves, pine needles) and those that are part of the deCordova landscaping and shouldn’t be picked (the hosta leaves).

So in thinking about helping children to discern what is fair game and what is not, we’re starting by admiring the garden with them (thank you, Asha and her dad Ian of the Gardening Committee!) and explaining the rules: No picking anything in the garden box. However, the mint to the right of the box is fair game. We know that Studio Purple children have also been told that the mint is fair game, but these children are advised to take just a bit, and not too much (“or something may happen, you never know what!” – if anyone can guess what book that is from!). It may come to that with Studio Blue children at some point, too, but at the moment we’re just enjoying being a little adventurous by tasting a mint leaf or two.

So far they’ve been proud to be able to identify the teeny strawberries, and are very interested in the radishes which are showing their redness! Some of the children know other plants, such as the carrots and lettuces.

On Thursday, we returned to the area with the tree and the hostas. We explained that Brad and other people from the deCordova had planted this area, just like our garden, and that we shouldn’t walk through or pick plants there. Then we suggested that they look closely to notice which areas in the sculpture park are planted like gardens. As we moved on, many children asked about other areas along the path: which were gardens and which were not?

Some children have mentioned gardens at home, and picking plants there. Ruthie mentioned that the plants weren’t ready to pick in her home garden. Speaking of which, we offered children radishes from our garden to try at snack time – a number of children were adventurous, but only one child actually enjoyed them (Caroline: It tastes like a garden!).