Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day and The Curious Garden

With Mother’s Day around the corner, our students have been busy painting flowers, crafting cards, and purchasing plants for the important women in their lives.
Art from Marcia Douglas' Kindergarten class


Lucky for these kids, we have a well-stocked garden on the school grounds and a teacher, Julie Castillo, who passes along her knowledge and love of plants. This week she introduced the students to “Lady Bug City” where the children went in search of a friendly ladybug or two.

After visiting the garden on Thursday, my students came to speech bubbling with information about their plant purchases so I chose a book to fit the theme: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.


The book begins on a dreary note with a dreary, smoke-filled city.

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place.”

But a little boy in the story, Liam, loved the outdoors. He went exploring one drizzly day and discovered a “lonely patch of color” on an abandoned railway. The plants were dying and in need of a gardener. It wasn’t long before Liam became that gardener and the dying plants became a garden – a very curious one.

“Most gardens stay in one place. But this was no ordinary garden. With miles of open railway ahead of it, the garden was growing restless. It wanted to explore.
The tough little weeds and mosses were the first to move. They popped up farther and farther down the tracks and were closely followed by the more delicate plants.”

My students responded with enthusiasm to the story and they surprised me with gasps of wonder when I turned a page and they saw the transformation that plants made to a dilapidated building, an old wooden dock and a concrete parking lot. Lush greens spilled over rooftops and vibrant colors sprouted across the page. By the end of the story, there were no doubts – a garden can bring beauty even to the drabbest of places. This curious garden brought beauty to drab lives, too, as people of the town came out-of-doors and tended gardens all around the city.

On Friday, one of my autistic students showed me a three-inch manila envelope full of sunflower seeds she’d collected from our school garden. I assumed she was taking them home but after she left my room, I saw her outside the window, bent over my weed-filled barrel. She cleared out a mat of dried chickweed, emptied the envelope, and tucked soil around her gift.

Our Redwood students enjoy learning about plant life, insects, and gardening, but I think they are discovering something more – a variety of ways to bring beauty into our world.


  1. THis is cool how the students and class read the book and planted a garden, way to open their eyes to the wonders of our planet

    1. It is wonderful to watch their responses to the book as well as the garden.

  2. This book sounds absolutely wonderful. Onto the to read list. Thanks for linking in to the Kidlitbloghop

  3. I love this book and I love the message about the importance of greening within urban spaces. Great selection for the Kid Lit Blog Hop! And how sweet, your story about the sunflower seeds. :)

  4. We own this book and really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop! =)