Evergreen Garden Club Website Blog: August 31, 2016
For our family, summer went fast, as usual. For me, the toughest part of summer is seeing our Butterfly Garden at Evergreen Elementary become weed ridden. As most of you know, I live right up the road. So, I pass school everyday. I can see the weeds growing taller and stronger, blocking out the color of the flowers and reducing air circulation. It gets to the point where I have no choice but to personally do something about it. So, I do eventually take action, just like I have in past summers. I go and weed the garden.
I don’t really mind it. I like the solitude of the garden, putting my hands in the dirt, and tugging out the weeds. I love how it always looks better when I am done. But, a key issue here is that it never seems (or looks) done, despite 10-15 hours of weeding every summer. This summer, it bothered me that I was alone in my work. I looked around at the schoolyard at Evergreen. I love this building and the teachers my boys were privileged to receive instruction and nurturing from during their elementary years. However, many times, the grounds need care. Yes, the grass gets cut. Occasionally, the curbs get cleaned. Yet, there is much more that can and should be done. In my opinion, the outside of the building and grounds reflect how much it is valued. Ours looks like it is not. Please note the word “ours”. I truly still want to feel a part of the Evergreen family, yet I find myself tiring of trying. Lately, I have had to try hard. The butterfly garden and garden club have been my contribution and link to this school for over a decade. Admittedly, my loyalty has not been enough to satisfy me this year.
A few things contributed to my recent angst. 1) Our farm to school bed, one that the district likes to boast about each building having, was a mass of weeds up until two days ago! If there is pride in having these beds, why is ours not cared for? 2) The Autumn Blaze Maple that provides such wonderful fall color was damaged in early to mid-June, with a large branch being ripped from the trunk. Thanks go to the building and ground staff for removing the limb. The tree continued to grow and thrive. I seriously do not want to consider the possible causes of the limb breakage. 3) The same tree finally met its demise during the horrific storm in early August, when it was completely blown over. I am sure the earlier summer damage contributed to the tree’s inability to withstand the storm. What’s the big deal about the tree? It is a tree that past garden club students planted. It is a tree planted with the purpose of providing a shady spot for perhaps a class to listen to their teacher read a story on a warm spring or fall day. I know I gathered garden club students under that tree on more than one occasion this year. Despite never seeing another teacher partake of its shade, furthering the fulfillment of the tree’s purpose, I will miss that maple tree. After all, I helped our students (including my own son, Matt) put it in the ground. It was well planned, cherished, and now gone. I feel alone in my bereavement. I feel sure some staff do not even know how or why such a young tree was on our school grounds, let alone it had a purpose.
Likewise, some of you might not know that in years past, parents of garden club students would come to help me weed the garden periodically in the summer. At the risk of leaving someone out, I will just thank you all. I know who you are and how you helped me in the garden. There were parents, a few teachers, two administrators, and some high school students. You were appreciated. I hope I told you how much. I know I was overjoyed to receive help from the Filips family this past week in refreshing the garden just before school begins. Please thank Lisa and the girls, if you see them. A thank you goes a long way. I know it is a small thing but important to be told.
When I was weeding solitarily this summer, I reflected on what it means to run a community garden like the Evergreen Butterfly Garden and Garden Club. This year, I will be seeking some more community involvement to tend the garden. The community to which I refer mostly entails the parents & families of the students who attend garden club. I could also include teachers, high school students, and other master gardeners. Please be alert to opportunities to help.
I do not want to lose what has been built at Evergreen. Truly, I feel garden club lessons provide a unique experience in interdisciplinary, experiential, and place based learning for students. Garden Club has been a large part of my life and my largest community contribution. So, I ask you, is it valued? From looking at our grounds, I am not so sure.
I am not asking for compliments here. I know there are those who appreciate what I do for this community and our students. I thank you for your many years of support. I am just asking anyone reading this to take the time to think about whether it is important or not to have an offering like Evergreen Garden Club at our school. I have had the chance to speak with educators from around the state this past year. Many are in awe as to what as been accomplished by Garden Club and, as much, in a state of shock when I reveal that I feel dwindling support for our group. So take some time. Think about your students. Think about what kind of experiences you want them to have. Think about in class discussions and out of class experiences. I have done my thinking, and within this writing, have shared my thoughts.
What are yours?”