I started a new tradition this year. When I visit my K-2 classrooms, I bring something “freshly picked.” This week it was rosemary.
Now that my garden ambassadors are chosen, they make the bouquets for me at recess and return the vases to the garden room for me to pick up on the way to class.
The idea is that the vase stays in the class until the arrangement withers, and then the ambassadors collect them after a week. It’s a small touch that “brings the outside in,” fills the room with a nice fragrance and gives students a chance to make observations and learn plant names. Beauty is a language of care!
Most of my Master Gardener public outreach hours are going to school gardens. Recently, however, a service opportunity came up I couldn’t resist: spying on nurseries to document how many invasive plants they have for sale.
Ok, not really spying. It’s all done in the open as part of the non-profit organization Plant Right’s attempt to take “data collected from this survey to track California’s retail market for invasive garden plants over time. Having this information allows PlantRight to engage the nursery industry in building an effective program to stop the sale of these plants and replace them with environmentally safe alternatives. The survey itself is a data collection effort and not an outreach initiative.” They asked Master Gardeners for help, and I gladly watched the webinar and signed up for a nursery in the general area of my other Saturday errands.
Imagine my disappointment when the training webinar said “No disguises necessary.”
In reality, I strolled around–a plainclothes amateur botanical detective— with my Plant ID guide of 18 targeted invasives to find. I’m happy to report that the big box store to which I was assigned had none of them. We were supposed to record other plants in the genus, though, so I jotted down some notes about a broom and vinca minor (vinca major was on the blacklist), took some photos and submitted my notes to their site. A good afternoon’s work for a native plant vigilante.
To learn more about this cool effort, see http://www.plantright.org
Our junior high has an enrichment afternoon called Tech Thursday, much like the elementary’s University of Wednesday. Marisa and I just completed two sessions on xeriscape and botantical drawing. First, I explained the principles of xeriscape (drought-tolerant landscaping) and talked about our plans to have students help us plant a “demonstration garden” on the slope edging the school garden.
Then I introduced a handful of “rockstar” plants. I gave a little natural history and botany for each.
Mouthing off about ceanothus, deer grass and salvia
Then, to help students really look at the plants, Marisa took over and talked about the art of botanical drawing.
Students then began to sketch. Our hope is that they learned a bit about this style of drawing. We also hope that they have learned a few plant ID’s, having looked so carefully at the plants.
Two particularly great examples:
Last step! Kids in the after school Club Live program putting them in the ground…in the drizzle!