I spent most of Memorial Day Weekend in my flower garden. The cool wet spring has kept me from tilling and seeding so three days of sunshine and reasonable temperatures were a truly wonderful gift even though my stiff muscles might not be so grateful. I weeded, tilled, and readjusted. As I worked, I found myself thinking of all the things we learn from gardening including problem solving skills like creativity and critical thinking. And two huge lessons for me: the power of patience and long range planning.*
For now, I’ll start with just one lesson: Learning is never over. My main objective is to learn how to create a healthy, pleasing-to-look-at garden. That means each plant needs its optimal conditions as much as possible so it can thrive. They will be at their most beautiful and productive which in itself makes the garden look better.
However, there is also a design element. Some flowers are short, some tall, some bushy, some skinny. Some are planted for their foliage; others are planted for their showy blossoms. Plus, my garden is rectangular with a “front” side. However, you can also see the “back” side from the road so I’ve tried to create a two-edged garden. It all makes a difference in what goes where.
That’s why, even though it’s well into the season, I’m still moving things around. For both reasons: it’s a new garden so I’m stilllearning what the sun will be like in the summer. A shady spot a few months ago now gets almost full sun all day, something I didn’t consider last fall. A few shrubs have grown so they are now providing small oases of shade in an otherwise fairly sunny garden. Plus, flowers are
There’s an element of awareness here that I think also plays into the notion of critical thinking. Sometimes, I just stand and look, thinking about what is happening in the bed. What’s blooming? What’s done? What should be blooming but isn’t? When did it rain last? What can I still being added. We came into several large clumps of hostas so expansion was needed. They make a great border but now the grasses that were forming the border would be hidden. So, out they came.
There is an art and science to gardening that challenges the critical and creative thinker. I know many schools host gardens and I think it’s a great place to put these skills into practice. It’s a science lesson but it can be so much more…
*And, selfishly, I was looking for an excuse to post some pictures of my garden. The irises were gorgeous this year, if I do say so myself.