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?)

Kindergarteners + math + garden

One of my favorite things about the school garden is discovering ways it is being used by teachers, staff and families.  A few weeks back, a mom was out at the table, orchestrating a birthday celebration for her son.  Earlier in the day, the kindergarten class was looking for patterns.  What a great lesson, Mrs. White!  She wrote to me later:

So…we had an amazing day in the garden! It really helped our math work to “come alive!” 

Photo courtesy of Mrs. White


Photo courtesy of Mrs. White

Tulips and Citizen Science

As I begin to connect with more and more garden coordinators, I realize that a common challenge with school gardens is “when and how to get kids out there.”  As a former teacher, I fully understand all that must be accomplished in a single school day and how overwhelming it can feel to add one more thing to the schedule, no matter how important.

For this reason I love it when people introduce me to user-friendly curriculum units like “Tulip Test Gardens” from Journey North ( In this project students plant the same variety of tulip in their school gardens (using the same set of directions, such as no planting on north-facing slopes which would cause tulips to bloom early).  Students record when the flowers first emerge, and then again when they bloom, inputing their data on the Journey North website.  In this way, students “track the arrival of spring” across the globe, thus studying the relationship between climate and geography.

Our science teacher wants to try it out… our tulips were put in this week!

This curriculum falls squarely in the fascinating camp of “citizen science.”  Citizen science is basically mobilizing volunteers (not necessarily with any formal scientific training) to collect information for scientific purposes, often using observation and measurement.  The best known, and longest running, citizen science project is the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count (1900).  Another effort that takes place in backyard and school gardens, the”Great Sunflower Project” asks participants to record pollinator activity at sunflowers they plant. There are others—from “World Water Monitoring Day” to a on-line National Geographic “noninvasive survey” in which internet users analyze satellite images from the region of Genghis Khan’s lost tomb to help archaeologists on the ground.  (This is really interesting stuff–a little googling will lead you to many interesting projects.)

When it comes to school gardens, how cool is it for children to be collecting data with real-world applications?  I’ll let you know how our first attempt goes!