For Family Home Evening this past Monday, we decided to sit down with the kids and plan out our garden for the upcoming year. Brian and I are quite excited — the yard behind our house is huge, and Utah, with its lack of mold spores, fine earth, and sunny weather, is ideal for gardening (that is, if you can get the water).
I was ecstatic because I managed to convince Brian that our garden should be surrounded by a cute white picket fence, in order to keep The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Green Tomatoes from happening again. Hooray! It will be SO ADORABLE.
The kids, on the other hand, were a mite bit puzzled. If we were gardening, then why were we looking at pictures of plants, instead of heading out back to dig? They did, however, love looking through some seed catalogs and making requests. Eleanor, in particular, was excited about Shasta Daisies, and I look forward to planting some with her and then teaching her how to make daisy chains . . . while swinging in a hammock under a shady tree . . . with a mason jar of lemonade . . . sigh. Why can’t summer come a bit faster?
Jeffrey, meanwhile, was most excited about a double-page spread of bamboo varieties.
“Mom! We need to get bamboo and put it in our garden!”
“But Jeffrey,” I explained, “we don’t need bamboo. It would take up too much space.”
“But Mom, it would keep the panda bears away from our garden,” he replied patiently. He then went on to elaborate:
“See, we plant the bamboo in a circle around the garden, and that way when the panda bears come, they will want to eat the bamboo and get stuck in it and not want our vegetables!”
I nodded sagely at this advice, and Brian announced that it was time for treats.
Aftewards, I went back to clean up the catalogs, and Eleanor let out a squeal.
“No Mom!” she cried as I began to close up the catalog displaying the bamboo. “We need that plant! It will keep the panda bears out!”
“Is that what Jeffrey said?” I leaned in conspiratorially. “Don’t worry, Eleanor. I don’t think there are any panda bears in Utah.”
“That’s right,” called out Jeffrey, waltzing into the room. “Panda bears are only in China!”
Eleanor thought about this for a moment, and then her little face screwed up into a frown.
“But I thought we lived in China!” she wailed.
Ah, disillusionment. Of course, you do realize that when Jeffrey imagines China, he thinks of a nation whose gardeners are constantly beset by marauding panda bears. It just cracks me up.
For further reading (ah, yes! back by popular demand! And by “popular demand,” I mean that three whole people requested its return!):
Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Jane Dyer. I usually aren’t too keen on picture books with rhymed text — they are often a little too sing-songy — but Hoberman’s (also known for A House is a House for Me) verses about the “ownership” of a garden are top-notch. Who owns a garden? The gardener? The animals who live in it? The “tiny seeds and whistling weeds” who make up the garden itself? A clever book to get kids thinking about gardens, land, and ecosystems, perfectly accompanied by Dyer’s lush watercolors. Check it out!