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Disclaimer: This garden adventure to Savannah was provided by Troy-Bilt at no cost to me, however, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

After our first full day in Savannah, we woke to a beautiful morning and got ready for a day working at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.

The folks at Troy-Bilt organized this service project, along with the organization, Planet In Action, whose purpose was to donate materials and labor for the Children’s Garden section. As part of a group of garden bloggers, who are Troy-Bilt ambassadors, I was eager to take part in this event.

The garden suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew last year, and we were asked to create additional feature areas for the children’s section. 

Existing garden features included a fun twist on a ‘bed of flowers.’

A ‘pizza garden’ filled with plants that are frequently found on top of a pizza.

A fun spot to pose for a picture with friends.

Instructions were given, and we paired off to work on one of four projects. They included creating a dedicated seating area for the kids (complete with new benches), planting an orchard, adding a berry patch, and a new path between the main gardens and the children’s section.

We had worked on the design for the new spaces ahead of time, so were able to get right to work, once we arrived.

I worked on the berry patch planting blueberries and thornless blackberries. Using an auger made it easy to dig holes – I wonder if I can ask for one for Christmas?

The orchard was planted with lemon, orange, and fig trees.

New planting beds were added around the corners of the concrete pad.

Benches were installed once planting was finished.

A pathway was created, leading to the main gardens and the children’s with daylilies and ornamental grasses.

A film crew recorded the transformation of the garden and the story behind it.

We took a quick pause to take a photo of our original Troy-Bilt group with Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening, Helen Yoest of Gardening With Confidence, Dave Townsend, of Growing the Home Garden, and myself. This is the third time that we have gathered together working with Troy-Bilt.

Once the projects were finished, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new areas, and Troy-Bilt gifted the gardens with a check to assist with their upkeep.

The Savannah Botanical Gardens is a hidden gem that offers free admission to all and it was a pleasure to work with the folks who volunteer their time and talents to keep it running. 

We joined with new garden blogger friends to create these new areas, including Teresa O’Connor of Seasonal Wisdom, Rochelle Greayer of Pith & Vigor, Kenny Point of Veggie Gardening Tips, Eric Rochow of Garden Fork TV, Erin Schanen of The Impatient Gardener, and Kim Wilson of Sand & Sisal.

If you ever find yourself in Savannah, I encourage you to visit this special garden.

Whenever I look back on my garden travels, I find that my favorites tend to be the smaller ones with more of a personal feel.  Ones that I can take my time walking through without feeling like I have to hurry in order to see the entire garden.


Recently, I visited a small garden run by Washington State University that is located in Mount Vernon, WA.  The WSU Discovery Garden was designed by master gardeners and divided up into multiple smaller-themed gardens filled with creative elements.


Last week, I shared with you about some of the themed gardens, including the Four Seasons, Herb, Naturescape, Shade as well as the composting area along with its ‘Yuck Bin’. 

While these gardens were fun to explore, I’ve saved the best for last!




I am a strong proponent of teaching children the joys of gardening, so I was especially excited to explore the Children’s Garden.



The gateway to the garden started down a ‘yellow brick road’ through an archway with weeping mulberry growing on it, creating the impression of entering through a green tunnel into a land of make-believe.




The curving pathway that ran down the center of the garden, included the game of ‘hopscotch’.  I confess that I had an overwhelming impulse to hop down the pathway, but restrained myself.  But, it did bring back memories of playing hopscotch on the playground when I was in elementary school!




For those who may be unfamiliar with the rules of ‘hopscotch’, there were helpful instructions.




Other areas in the garden included a small playground set and a bench that encircled a small tree.




Two vertical gardening towers stood sentinel in the center of the garden and was planted with strawberries and carrots.




In the corner of the Children’s Garden, sat Alice with the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.


 An unusual ‘hotel’ was sitting off to the side.  This insect hotel has lots of nooks and crannies for solitary bees and other pollinating insects to stay.  In addition, insects that stay in the ‘hotel’ also help to keep damaging insects away from the garden.



Insect hotels are typically made up of scrap bits of wood and hollow bamboo reeds.


This hotel was quite fancy and had a roof planted with hen and chicks succulents.

A giant checkerboard beckoned kids (& adults) to try their hand at a friendly game.


Of course, instructions were also included.


Visitors strolling along the ‘yellow brick road’ must pass underneath an arch with a flying monkey keeping watch.


The next garden on our tour was the Enabling Garden.

The word “enabling” means to “give someone the means to do something”, which is exactly what this garden does.  It gives people with disabilities the means to garden.

This garden bed was created for those who are visually impaired.


It’s filled with a variety of plants along with rock to provide a variety of textures that are experienced primarily through touch.


The velvety feel of lamb’s ear is a favorite of many gardeners and I find myself always reaching out to touch their leaves.

White rock is used to create small planting islands and helps visually impaired visitors to experience the separate planting islands in the raised bed.


A collection of ‘hens & chicks’ add spiky texture that can be touched safely.  

A variety of mosses also grew in the garden.


This raised bed was built with a sitting ledge around it, which makes it easier for those who have trouble standing or bending over to garden.  With this type of bed, you can simply sit on the edge and tend to the garden.

I have several clients who have had raised beds built since they can no longer bend down to garden for a variety of reasons.


At first glance, can you tell how this planting bed can be enabling?

Note the empty area underneath the bed – can you see how it would make someone who was wheelchair bound or uses a walker be able to get up close to garden?


Besides having garden beds to enable people with disabilities to garden, there was a helpful display with a variety of gardening tools that can make gardening easier.


Each tool had a description of how it can help make routine gardening tasks easier, which is helpful for those with disabilities and even those who don’t.

2010

The display of enabling gardening tools spoke directly to my heart as a mother of a child with disabilities.

My son, Kai, has a disability that affects his joints, which makes everyday tasks difficult.  He loves to help me in the garden, but even using a pair of hand pruners is hard for him to use correctly.

March 2006

In Kai’s short life, he has had several operations, which have left him wheelchair bound for weeks at a time and having a place where he could enjoy everyday activities, such as gardening, would be a blessing.

You can read about Kai’s story here.


Walking through the garden, I noticed a sign pointing off to the outer area of the garden toward the Native Plant Garden.


Being in the Northwest, you can imagine that the path through patches of lush greenery.

As a landscape consultant, I hear of people’s frustration at trying to grow certain plants.

No matter where you live – the desert, jungle or in the Arctic Circle – the easiest way to garden is to grow plants that are native to your area.


The next best thing is to grow plants that are adapted to your area, which are native to climates similar to yours.


If you follow that simple piece of advice, you will enjoy a beautiful garden with a minimum of work since the plants will thrive with little to no attention because they are adapted to your climate.

When traveling, I always like to take time to learn more about the native plants that grow there.


Walking back toward the main areas of the garden, we passed by the Meadow Garden.


The garden consisted of grasses and wildflowers.


Throughout the year, you’ll find different flowers in bloom.


The last garden we visited was the Vegetable Garden.

However, it wasn’t just anyone’s vegetable garden…


It belonged to an infamous gardener. 


Mr. McGregor’s garden was a good-sized plot filled with a variety of vegetables, including some that I decided to try in my garden in the fall.

This lovely row of leafy greens are green and purple spinach.  I didn’t know that there was such thing as purple spinach.  But, I do like to add unexpected color in my garden and so I will be sure to add this to my garden.


Garlic was growing nicely and would be ready to harvest in a month.  You can tell when it is ready to be harvested with the outer leeaves begin to yellow and turn brown.


This crop caught my eye.

Can you tell what these are?

Potatoes!

To be completely honest, I’ve grown them a few times, but it is a lot of work for only a few potatoes in my desert garden so I don’t plant them anymore.


A healthy crop of sugar snap peas were in full flower.


I particularly love the color and shape of their flowers, don’t you?

This is one crop that I do plant each year.


An old wheelbarrow planted with radishes caught me eye as did the watering can with its strawberries.

My brother-in-law found an old, rusty wheelbarrow for my garden and I can’t wait to plant it!

It was obvious that Mr. McGregor took very good care of his garden and it was well fenced in.


But, that didn’t keep a particular rabbit from getting in 🙂

Thank you for joining me on a tour of this special garden.  If you ever find yourself driving north of Seattle, toward Vancouver, take an hour and visit – you won’t be disappointed!

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On another note, we just returned from a weekend trip to Southern California where we visited my daughter, Rachele, who is stationed there in the Navy.

While we always have fun visiting her, it is even more so now because we also get to spend time with our new grandson!

He is absolutely darling and smiles more than any baby I’ve ever seen.  He is one happy baby!


When we visit, we are able to stay on the Navy base with our daughter in her townhouse, which makes visiting her easier and less expensive than having to stay in a hotel.

As often occurs whenever we visit, we usually find ourselves driving the short distance to Santa Barbara.  This California city is not only a beautiful place to visit, but it also holds a special place in my heart since it is where I met my husband in college.

We are back home now but look forward to seeing Rachele and her son, Eric, next month when they come out to visit us 🙂

I’m sure most of you know how much fun it can be to garden with your kids.  I remember my dad building each of us a raised planter where we could grow vegetables and flowers.  Today, my kids and I went to the store to buy flowers for their new garden.  You will NEVER guess what they are planting their flowers in 😉

Our first stop was our local nursery.  Each child was allowed to pick out 2 six-packs of flowers.  The kids decided to each pick a different type of flower and then share them with each other.  My youngest daughter selected geraniums and blue petunias.

My older daughter selected stock, (beautiful and fragrant despite its ordinary name) and white alyssum.


My son decided on dianthus and snapdragons.


We finished making our selections and then got ready to go home and start planting.  The only question the kids had was – where were they going to plant their flowers?  Well…..
 

How about their old kiddie pool?  You know, the ones that cost less then $10 and your kids have fun playing in during the summer.  When summer is over, most people either throw it out or store it somewhere out of the way.  Well, you can use it as a planter for either flowers or shallow-rooted vegetables or herbs.

First, move the pool where you want the garden to be as it will be too heavy once you fill it with potting mix.  Then make multiple holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then fill with a mixture of planting mix and compost.  Sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer and now begin planting! 


My youngest daughter planted the first plant, a peach-colored geranium.


My teenage daughter is overseeing our planting while texting on her phone.
 

We finished!  The kids are so excited to see their flowers grow.  The garden will be a riot of different colors and has no sense of design, which is as it should be for a children’s flower garden.

This will be our “before” picture.  We planted geraniums, stock, snapdragons, petunias, dianthus and alyssum.

If you would like to try this at home and you want the garden to become a somewhat more permanent part of the landscape, you can add a brick border or plant shrubs and perennials around the outside of the pool.

**Some of you may have noticed that my three youngest children do not look like me, (my two oldest daughters do).   We adopted our youngest children from China.  I call them my “Three Chinese Miracles”.