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My Garden

“If I had a garden there would be no weeds and the flowers would keep blooming and blooming and never die.” from My Garden by Kevin Henkes

I love flowers! I love to see flowers outside and have fresh cut flowers in my house. Last year, I tried something new and planted a small flower garden. This would be a great activity to do with children while we are all spending more time at home. How did I get started? Here is my story.

Two summers ago, my coworker Janine planted sunflowers and zinnias in a small garden at the Hopewell Branch. It was fun to watch them grow. Then the inevitable happened. A snacking deer ate them! Fortunately, some of the zinnias and one lonely sunflower survived. From that moment on, the sunflower was named “Lucky”. A fence was placed around Lucky and the remaining zinnias to protect them. By the end of the summer, we had watched Lucky grow into a tall beautiful sunflower.

Last summer, Janine planted again and the fence went right up. Janine gave me the leftover packets of seeds; sunflowers and zinnias. I took the seeds home and my husband worked with me to dig a little flower bed. I spaced the seeds according to the directions on the package. I thought we did not need a fence right away because I didn’t even know if it would work. Soon, there were little shoots coming up. I was wrong about the fence - we do live in New Jersey, after all. After the deer’s snack, there were a few flowers left and we promptly put up the fence. It was made from a roll of fencing bought at a hardware store. We put up our snow stakes (used to mark the driveway in winter) to give it shape. Then I waited. I should/could have weeded but I didn’t. Eventually, I had beautiful sunflowers and zinnias! I cut the zinnias to display in the house. They kept blooming for weeks and I loved having free fresh flowers in my house! The sunflowers just bloomed once. This year I will stagger the planting of the sunflowers so that they will last longer.

I can’t wait to have a garden again! I already bought packages of sunflowers, zinnias and something new – coneflowers. Here is a list of suggested supplies; packets of seeds, garden stakes, a roll of garden fencing, and a shovel (or something to dig up the dirt). Last year I literally spent nothing because Janine gave me the seeds and we had a shovel, a piece of fencing from an old roll, and the driveway stakes. I am sure there is a better way to do this but if there were lots of steps and requirements, then I never would have tried. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just do the basics and see what happens. If I did this you can do it too!

All of the resources below can be found in our virtual branch so that you can access them from home. You can read garden stories or you can turn this into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) lesson and learn garden facts. There are staff videos on our YouTube channel with garden stories and craft ideas. Need some inspiration? Longwood Gardens has free virtual tours on their website at

Picture Books About Gardens

My Garden
by Kevin Henkes
After helping her mother weed, water, and chase the rabbits from their garden, a young girl imagines her dream garden complete with jellybean bushes, chocolate rabbits, and tomatoes the size of beach balls.

The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown
Liam discovers a hidden garden and, with careful tending, spreads color throughout the gray city.

We Are the Gardeners
by Joanna Gaines
Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From failed endeavors, obstacles (bunnies that eat everything!), and lessons learned, the Gaines family shares how they grew a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn't always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
by Kate Messner
"Up in the garden, the world is full of green--leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt there is a busy world of earthworms digging, snakes hunting, skunks burrowing, and all the other animals that make a garden their home. In this exuberant book, discover the wonder and activity that lie hidden between the stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt."-- Provided by publisher.

There’s a Pest in the Garden!
By Jan Thomas
There's a pest in the garden and he's eating all the vegetables! But Duck has a plan to save the day (well, sort of). Featuring Jan Thomas's wonderfully wacky humor, rowdy repetitions, and hilarious characters, this book is sure to have young readers laughing out loud!

Nonfiction Materials

Plant Life Cycle (How Plants Grow)
by Baby Professor

Awareness springs from education. You can only encourage your child to be environmentally aware if you feed their mind with the facts and pictures. Therefore, the purpose of this educational book is to educate your child to be aware of his/her surroundings. It will teach them to appreciate and eventually, to become a good custodian of the Earth.

How a Seed Grows
by Helene J. Jordan

How does a tiny acorn grow into an enormous oak tree? This classic Level 1 Let's-Read-and-Find-Out picture book shows how little seeds become the plants and trees that surround us. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children. FROM GOOGLE PREVIEW

How Plants Grow
by Dona Herweck Rice

Beginning readers explore the steps to make plants grow! Readers will learn about various parts of the plant including seeds, roots, and leaves in this engaging nonfiction title. Featuring vivid, clear photos and simple, informational text.

Flowers Bloom
by Nancy Robinson Masters

Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. Flowers Bloom offers answers to their most compelling questions about flowers. Age-appropriate explanations and appealing photos encourage readers to continue their quest for knowledge. Additional text features and search tools, including a glossary and an index, help students locate information and learn new words.

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