Thursday, June 9, 2011

A, B, C, D, Echinecea, Feverfew, (Blue-Eyed) Grass...

In which Truffula and a TruffulaBoy multi-purpose their education...

Many moons ago, when we moved into our house, there was an ugly and boring grass strip between our house and the neighbor's.  Gentle Green Phone Booth readers, you know what came next: the strip had to go.  I mustered courage to cover it with newspaper and cardboard.  Of course, I didn't have enough cover, and with permission, raided repurposed cardboard from said neighbor's recycling stash.  Then, down went a layer of mulch.  I had salvaged the already-present stepping stones, and replaced them on the mulch.  Presto!  Change-o!

The next question was what to do with this new garden area. TruffulaBoy #1 was a toddler at the time.  Inspiration struck: I'd make an Alphabet Garden.  I scoured the web for wooden letters that suited my fancy, and painted them with bright colors.  Aluminum pieces were procured, cut to a variety of lengths, pre-drilled with holes, and screwed on.  I tried to find a plant to go with each letter.  To enhance the challenge, the first part of the alphabet was situated in shade, and the rest was in full sun, which is not to say that I didn't just plant sunlovers in shade and vice versa and hope for the best.

Fast forward to 2011...

This year, we had a First Grader!  And, in our Waldorf-inspired homeschooling, that meant that TruffulaBoy #2 worked his way through the alphabet, letter by letter.  By now, he's got his letters down -- you should have heard him rattle through them at his recent eye exam!  As he continues to gather his skills for that light-bulb moment of starting to read, we've been wrapping up the academic year with activities to support him in that.  Out to the garden we went!

Honestly, those wooden letters were never meant to be subjected to an all-weather situation.  They've actually done remarkably well, considering that.  Our first task was refurbishment.  We reglued broken pieces, sanded flakey bits, and then got out the paint. He mixed the green himself, and was very pleased with the result.  (Yes, those are tomato seedlings in the background - for paint-control reasons, we worked outside.)

With paint dry and a fresh coat of varnish, the letters were put back into their places.  Next assignment: inventory.  Here's the dictation taken by my trusty young scribe, in carefully-pencilleded block letters:

A- Astilbe
B - Beebalm
C - 
D - Dill
E - Echinecea
F - Feverfew
G - Blue-eyed Grass
H - Hosta
I - Iris
J - 
K - 
L - Lamb's Ear
M - Money Plant
N - Nasturtium
O - Oregano
P - Parsley
Q - Queen Anne's Lace
R - Radish
S - Scallion
T - Turtlehead (and Tulsi)
U - 
V - Violet
W - Wormwood
X - 
Y - Yarrow
Z - Zinnia

We have a a few gaps -- I'd love your suggestions for filling these in, as well as native/edible alternates to what we've already got.

When we needed garden ingredients for a recipe earlier this week, it was so much fun to be able to send the sous chef out to the "O" for a sprig of oregano, thus combining language arts, gardening, and cooking!


Anonymous said...

C - coreopsis. :)

SustainaMom said...


c- chives or cilantro
j- johnny jump-up (looks like a small pansy. such a happy little flower!)
k - Knotted Marjoram
x- it looks like fennel goes by many names, including Xiao-hue-xiang :)

I don't know how authoritative the site is, but here is a site listing herbs in alphabetical order, if you want to brainstorm for ideas:

Cheryl said...

What a wonderful idea!

C - Calamint (or Mountan Mint or Basil Thyme)
J - Jump up Jennies/Japanese Mint
K- Key of Heaven (also known as Cowslip which could make it your C instead

Truffula said...

Great suggestions all! Putting the fennel at X wouldn't even be that far-fetched for us, as we're learning Chinese.

Green Bean said...

What a fun idea!! I love gardening for kids projects.

Calendula for C? It grows well from seed and reseeds itself.

Fragmentary Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fragmentary Green said...

C- cucumbers, cilantro/coriander, catnip, chamomile....
J- jalepeƱos
K- kale! but it likes cold weather
U- Urtica aka stinging nettles, which I love but kiddos maybe not so much.
X is beyond me, sadly.

(Had a typo in the previous post.)

Daisy said...

K = kohlrabi

Anonymous said...

c: carrots
j: Jerusalem arthichoke
k: ah! kale and kohlrabi taken! how about kurrat, aka Egyptian leek
x: found xigua, a chinese watermelon, on the web. Could be helpful playing Banangrams, I suppose.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Okay, I had all these ideas, but most of them had been used already! (Johnny Jump-Ups are among my favorites)...

But how about Cardinal Flower, aka red lobelia?

This is SO cool--what an awesome idea!


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