Watching the nightly news is painful, isn’t it? I hate it in the same way I hate coming up on a bad car-wreck: I look but I always wish I hadn’t. From the newscasts, it would seem playing outside is one of the most dangerous things a kid can do. As a child of the 60’s, I played outside a little bit every day and most of the day during summer. Nature called each morning. (Didn’t mean it THAT way….. I was young and had camel bladder!)
There were things to do and my brothers and I answered by doing them. We were in trees, making mud pies, pretending to be on safari (remember “Daktari” on t.v.?),riding bikes through paths or making our own. Imagination and room to roam were in ample supply. We had a world to conquer, after all. Either that, or my mom locked the screen door and told us not to return till lunch. Regardless, I believe playing outside is one of the major influences in my life. I think it made me a lover of nature.
Each month, dozens of landscaping professionals gather virtually during the 1st week – usually on the 4th – to share their expertise for an online event called YOU CAN GROW THAT! Although my contribution typically emerges from gardening questions coming to my blog or from my landscaping clients, this month’s entry celebrates my new children’s book – BLOOMIN’ TALES. I’ve been designing learning gardens and Schoolyard Habitats for the past twenty years. I found using wildflower legends helps students and their teachers remember names of the plants in their new garden. Often the stories also tell about habitat and pollinators necessary for the plants to thrive. Generations handed down these legends, a tool for their children who were to become stewards of the land after them.
Recently, my friend Linda Lehmusvirta – who also happens to be the producer of Central Texas Gardener on PBS, – asked me to stop by and introduce her audience to some of my favorite BLOOMIN’ TALES and talk about my passion for wildflowers and their stories. It was fun (and even a little intimidating) to walk into the old AUSTIN CITY LIMITS studio, but the CTG crew soon had me talking about growing up with plants.
So where will children’s love of nature come from if they can’t experience what I did? While they are a poor substitute, t.v. and books do offer hope for the disaster MY generation created, dropping the baton somehow, leaving our world defenseless except for some slogans and cute animal pictures begging us to save things “before it’s too late.” I hate to be dramatic, but in my view, if we don’t intentionally emerge kids early in nature, making it a NATURAL part of growing up for them to play outside, it might already be too late.