While having my tea on this glorious Saturday morning and checking my emails, I realized that I have a slight problem with tenacity. Or, rather, my problem might be the opposite – one of letting go instead of firmly hanging on.


Earlier this year, I resigned from the garden club advisor position I hold at a local school. I did that right before I scheduled each grade level to have an outdoor lesson and plant in the garden.  This just happened to coincide with the first ever Wisconsin School Garden Day, May 23rd.  The garden club that I manage at this same school was fraught with some behavioral problems this year, so my days there were not a bed of roses. Still, I hung on.


In working with the principal, over time, we did resolve the student problems by being firm with each of them and their families. One student, in particular, became a model citizen during club meetings!  I even received a thank you note from her when we met last. I remarked about this to her mom, whose look of relief on her face was priceless.

The garden planting was interrupted by rains, so first and second grade did not get out this year. But, still, I hung on and  offered a reschedule of their planting date. But, we did manage to get pre-k, and the students in third through fifth grade out to plant. Wisconsin School Garden Network even featured our group on their Facebook page yesterday.

Besides holding on to get the planting done, I went to the school to water the night before last. It has been close to 90 degrees over the last few days here, so the plants needed it. While there, I weeded. There are some large wild parsnip plants that have crept into the garden from an adjacent hillside and I even pulled those despite not having my limbs covered. Wild parsnip can burn the skin when it is pulled as substances in the plant interact with UV light, causing a terrible rash.  I consider myself lucky!

It is funny how you begin to realize what you have once you decide to let it go. On May 23rd, while I planted with students, I realized I was doing what I loved, and what I am good at!  Behavioral and logistical problems aside, I still receive joy from watching students carefully put a plant in the ground or ponder what the concept of peace means, as we did this year. Our garden was planted around a peace pole with a theme of peace. Many – almost all – of the students walk by this garden daily and do not even “see” the pole!  (I know because I asked.)  It was time to re-center the garden around this theme.

Peony in the garden at NWIS. Peonies have long been associated with PEACE. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2019.

This theme was a good, if not great, idea that I came up with last winter. Even though it would have been easy to ditch the theme and plant any annuals for color, I hung on to the theme of PEACE until the end. Tenacity.

The principal publicly thanked me yesterday for my leadership in the past two years. Funny. I never thought I was leading, only teaching and doing something I loved.  As the end of the month looms, the garden will grow and change. I will continue to go to the school to water and mulch until July 1st, when a new person takes over. I am holding on.


And, even after I am officially done with my Garden Club Advisor position, I will return to weed a garden I haven’t known long, but have come to love because I’ve cared for it. It is a place memories were made with young students.  As I like to say, the “seed” of environmental stewardship was planted! Yes, I am tenacious. Or, maybe it’s just loyalty. Whatever it is, I guess it is a good quality and serves more than myself.

Are you tenacious? Comment below with an example! Thanks!

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