Getting smarter every year: the daffodil show

We have hundreds of daffodils planted all around our garden, and we keep adding more every year. Every March our town of Julian hosts a daffodil show which is truly wonderful! (You can read my rapturous past reports here and here.)

Though students have planted most of the daffodils, I usually picked our prizewinning blooms the first couple years the school garden was represented in the youth division of the show.  Then I got a little smarter and had the kids go out and pick the flowers.  This year I was even smarter and put the whole process in the students’ hands: I not only had the students choose the flowers, after a short tutorial on how to do so properly, but I also had them key out the flowers using a laminated guide with flower part diagrams and division breakdowns.  They also arranged the blooms in show vases and filled out the submission cards.  Our wonderful Garden Beneficial for the day,  Jenny graciously offered to drop them off at Town Hall, ready to enter. And like every year, we brought home a handful of ribbons—but this year, the ownership of the flowers and the garden and our participation in the show was better than ever—no surprise.  School garden cardinal rule:  get kids’ hands on everything!


March Garden Tour

It’s March in the garden, and it couldn’t be prettier.  Stroll with me.

Carmen from Julian Pathways led the effort to start a monthly “have lunch with your parent in the garden” event.  The first attempt was an unqualified success with over 50 students and parents sharing a meal on Friday afternoon.

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Photo courtesy of Scot Copeland

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Photo courtesy of Scot Copeland

Our Harvest of the Month is citrus.  Citrus doesn’t grow in Julian so we tasted delicious grapefruit from the “neighboring” town of Borrego.



The breast cancer awareness ribbon is in full bloom!  Photo courtesy of 6th grade student Avery McFedries.

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Miss Lynn recently spruced up the gazebo with a new “coffee table,” pillows and a thorough cleaning.


She also tucks these little things around the garden.  I love discovering them.


Pediatric residents from UCSD do part of their community health rotation at our district, through Pathways.  Garden Ambassadors, decked out in St. Patrick’s attire, give the doc a tour.

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We added a geranium to the new mailbox to match the flag.


Second grade students seeded this new circular bed and wagon with California wildflowers.


After the rains, one of the garden volunteers found this on the back slope of the garden.  We’re thinking bobcat?


It was the garden’s turn to make a display for the front office.


Julian kids get to plant a lot of daffodils but they rarely get to go back and pick them.  I had students make “surprise” bouquets for their teachers from flowers in the garden.


I’ll close with a link that captures our teacher “flash mob” last October on National Food Day.  “We can change the world”—not just a pop song!  The truth!  (Right, Susi?)

February Garden Tour

Time for a walk around the garden.  Leave your jackets at home—it’s 76 degrees here today in Julian.

I picked up these banners at a garage sale in my effort to add holiday touches to the garden.


Miss Lynn added these:


Valentines Day is the rule of thumb for planting peas, and peas we did plant!


Kale is our harvest of the month, and my parent helpers/Garden Beneficials cooked up kale chips at our outdoor kitchen for the fifth graders.  One thing I have become convinced of during my tenure as garden teacher—-NUTRITION EDUCATION WORKS!  These kids were gobbling down the kale chips, begging for more, asking for the recipe, declaring it to be one of their favorite foods….uh, kale chips!

Harvesting from our new 3×3 beds:


Cooking in our new little convection oven at our outdoor food prep station:


Munching away:


A Farm to School project recently finished!  I had sets of banners made for the crops that are grown in San Diego each season.  The winter set now enhances the indoor area where children pick up their lunches.


Next to the banners is one of the photographs taken by a student in our after-school photography program Kids with Cameras, identifying the chef behind the meal.


Early start kindergarten and kindergarten students focus on a “letter of the week.”  I’m using these empty picture frames to teach garden vocabulary.  The students hunt for them, and we learn the name of the object framed.  D-d-d-d for daffodil!


Lastly, our district recently received a Live Well San Diego proclamation from our county board of supervisor for our wellness programs.  Pictured left to right–County Supervisor Diane Jacob, School Board president Eileen Tellam, Superintendent Kevin Ogden, and me.  Also recognized were Teresa and Jeremy Manley who were also present at the meeting.


Garden Tour, April 2013

Join me as we take our periodic stroll around the garden!

Junior High students often change the message on the blackboard hung in their garden.  Yes, welcome indeed!


I might have mentioned we are planting a lot of peas to get ready for our first Harvest of the Month program in May.  (Pinecones are to discourage critters from walking in the bed.)


As we were harvesting the broccoli, one child told me she didn’t know that the part of broccoli we eat is curled up flowers. I told her we’d leave one plant in the ground to flower so she could see for herself.


Broccoli is also coming up in one of our container gardens.  That’s one of the funny things about school gardens—mystery plants!  (Someone, at some time, had an idea, a vision, a spare plant…who knows?)


The strawberry plants look luscious.  Keep. meaning. to. enclose. them. in. nets.


The tulips are finally up in the breast cancer awareness ribbon.  Watching them bloom took on new meaning for me this year as two very brave and beautiful friends of mine have kicked cancer’s butt in the last year.


New child-created signage on the bulletin board on the CATCH nutrition concept:  go, slow and whoa foods.


We’ve been moving native strawberries out of this prime veggie growing location to the hillside around the fruit trees, as a move toward a permaculture fruit tree guild.  We hadn’t moved all of them by Science Day though so I split the bed to make some room for pea planting, pinning back the strawberries with some white picket fencing we keep moving around the garden.  Cute!


Someone donated this flag last year, and we fly it—announcing our allegiance to daffodils!


Mrs. Shull’s fourth grade class peas.  Each child did a letter on an index card, I laminated them and kids taped them to bamboo skewers.


We have a gazillion wildflower seeds in the garden, from seed ball making activities, former projects, etc.  Wildflowers have a special immunity in our garden.  Wherever they want to pop up, we gladly let them stay.


This little donated table broke.  No worrries. With a tree stump standing in, it makes another cozy little spot to hang out in the garden.


A local grape grower trimmed these for us!  Our first crop this fall?  (Stay tuned.)


Look who decided to bloom.  (Oh little wisteria, you have no idea how close you were to being uprooted.)


Our honeysuckle reading teepee.  Last week a child sitting inside yelled, “Mrs. Elisara!  Come here!  There’s a chrysallis at the top of the teepee!”  Sure enough, a butterfly-to-be was dangling from the ceiling.  (The president of the entomology club later ID’ed it.)


If you’re not familiar with Box Tops, they are the little pink coupons found on hundreds of products.  Schools collect them and mail them in, receiving 10 cents for each one.  It adds up, and at our school, the proceeds have been earmarked for the garden.  Twice a year we receive a check.  Here’s what we bought with our latest earnings: pea trellises, bean towers, seed starting mix, trays, compost, and our 3×3 raised bed frame.


Finally, it’s always good to step back and get the big picture!


Daffodil show: win-win-win-win…

This past weekend was the annual Daffodil Show in Julian.  (Last year I gushingly detailed all of the reasons I love this community event here.)

After a brief chat on Friday about how to choose a prizewinning bloom, the students spread out to harvest.




What to choose?


Then after school I took my boys home to pick their personal entries.


Ethan almost backed out this year but decided to enter again after listening to his mother go on and on about the importance of tradition. (A fistful of ribbons, including a “court of honor” distinction later, he was glad he followed through, and I made him promise to do it every year until he graduates high school.  We’ll see.  Elliot’s in, for sure.)


A friend visiting from out-of-town jumped right in on the excitement, watching the boys key out and arrange their flowers.  (The paper flowers hanging from the ceiling and the watercolor paintings on the wall were all done by kids at school.)


The youth division took up one full wall with a record amount of entries.




Photo courtesy of Anne Garcia

Marisa’s beautiful display with children’s essays.  The photos are of kids planting at school and around town—a yearly tradition led by Sally Snipes.


Photo courtesy of Anne Garcia

The ribbons and some of the flowers are now proudly on display in the front office of the school.


My friend Anne summed it up well in a post-show e-mail:

I think the Youth Division MAKES the show! It adds so much pizazz and meaning to why we grow the flowers. Pure joy!