Planning the School Garden

It’s that time again! Time to think about gardening! I am excited to once again be planning to plant a school garden with the entire student body of an elementary school.

I like to do have a theme in the gardens I plant with school aged children. The reason is that this gives me and their classroom teachers more material to draw from when integrating curriculum.  So, when I sat back and thought about the garden this year, I contemplated what theme would easily fit these extensive and beautiful school gardens.

It did not take me long to settle on a theme of PEACE for the garden bed we are planting. This is because the school garden has a large, five foot, white peace pole as its centerpiece.

School Garden. Summer, 2018. © Carol Labuzzetta.

So, I set about finding plants that are associated with the concept of PEACE.  On the surface there appears to be material on this, but much of is is superficial. It took cross-referencing several sources to determine if a plant had long been associated with the concept of peace or it was just someone’s whim.

Without being able to verify many plants that would withstand our Wisconsin climate outdoors and also be considered an annual, I moved to considering color as a sign of peace.

What I ended up with was a cross between some annuals that had a history of signifying PEACE and flowers that were the color that also most often symbolizes PEACE. As you might guess, the color is white.


My next step was to find out how many students were in each grade level at this elementary school. I wanted to have an entire grade level plant one type of flower so I could augment their learning with supplying the teachers with information on that one plant.

The numbers given to me were as follows:

Pre-K: 18 a.m. and 18 p.m.

K: 49

1st: 60

2nd: 55

3rd: 54

4th: 53

5th: 50

Then, I went to a seed catalog to choose plants I had written down as being associated with PEACE. I had previously contacted a high school student who owns his own greenhouse business. Last year, I obtained some of the plants for the school garden from him at his Mother’s Day sale. Those plants, coleus, marigolds, zinnia, and petunias were among the healthiest plants I have ever grown!

A couple of the varieties I chose were only available as live plants, not as seeds. So, I did have to re-assess my plan somewhat. Here is what I ended up with ordering:

Cosmos. Cosmos grow well in Wisconsin and come in white varieties. I ordered Cosmos Snow Puff, Cosmos Velouette, and Cosmos Cranberries. The Snow puff is white while the other cosmos are white and pink or solid deep pink. Other than an article from the “Classroom” website, I could not find why cosmos are associated with PEACE other than they are.


I ordered Zinnia in the Purple Prince Variety that grew nicely last year and White Wedding which reinforced the white “PEACE” theme.  Monarchs and other butterflies love zinnia flowers, so this was a reason I picked them. The monarchs flocked to the Purple Prince Zinnia in the garden last fall.

Tagged Monarch on Purple Price Zinnia in School Garden, September 2018. © Carol Labuzzetta

Royal Bride Snapdragon were ordered. These are a favorite flower of children and again, come in a white variety.  Jasmine Tobacco (Nicotania) was also ordered in white.


Some plants we already have in the school garden that symbolize PEACE are Peonies. These flowers represent peace and stability of a prosperous domestic life, according to  the same Classroom article cited above.  We have so many peonies in our school garden, I did not want to add more. They are a pink variety.


Spath Lilies, which belong to the genus Spathiphyllum, have long been associated with the concept of PEACE because of their resemblance to a surrendering white flag.  They also carry a symbolism of Life after Death in Christian religions.


Another flower I did not use but could have were poppies. White Poppies in general symbolize peace, the end of war, and remembrance.


Lavender already has a place in our garden and symbolizes love, protection, happiness, peace in interactions, and devotion.  Likewise, we have many violets (some would argue too many) in our garden. Violets symbolize peace, healing, loyalty, and devotion.


I am in the final stages of planning the garden. I drew a picture of where I want the students to plant. I will assign the plants per grade level in the next few days. The teachers will be given a sign up sheet to have their classes come out to the garden to put their plants in the ground. I will give each teacher a fact sheet about the plant their students were given, along with suggestions for enrichment.

My garden diagram. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2019.

The plants are growing well. I contacted the student greenhouse grower to make sure they were on target for a Mother’s Day weekend delivery.  They will be ready!

The garden bed needs to be prepped. My husband, who helped with this last year, has offered his services again. Soon, we will be in the garden again – my students and I! It is one of the busiest but most fulfilling times of the year!

All text and photographs that are marked are copyright by Carol Labuzzetta, 2019. Unmarked photographs are from Pixabay and carry a creative commons, no attribution license. Thank you!





3 thoughts

  1. As I scrolled and read your informative slice, I began to feel peaceful! I appreciated you telling step by step why you are making the choices. Ialso appreciated learng all the steps you are taking to make this garden. I’m starting a new school next year and I plan to propose that we plant a garden as a beginning community building activity. plan to share your post with others! Thanks for sharing about your Peace Garden!


  2. It will be such a wonderful time together, working together and watching the plants grow and later the flowers. I am sure it will be a beautiful garden and peace is so important.


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