It’s Smarty Mom Saturday and I am especially excited about this week’s post. We are catching up with Missy Owen. She has a great work life/home life balance and is a great example of how to be involved in your community. Let’s see how she and the family have been spending the summer.
2 children- Caroline (4 1/2), Mary (2 1/2)
Married to Geoff (Owen’s Bagel and Deli)
Original Smarty Mom Post – May 3, 2008
By Missy Owen
As I take stock in this summer, I realize that this has been the summer of “the joyful garden”.
The garden began in April. After living in our home for four years, our backyard had become a slope scattered with patches of crab grass and whatever perennials were on sale at Lowe’s when I felt impulsive. Construction that was planned at my office would be disrupting dozens of plants that had been put there by the former owner with a green thumb. Being a mother in a bad economy, I didn’t want to waste.
I contacted Meghan Hayes at the Essential Gardener because I needed a blue print. She wanted to know about our family and our lifestyle. She wanted to help us build a garden that would work with our family, much like one would build an addition on a home. After getting to know us, she said that she was planning a garden that drew the girls in, a garden which had a lot of texture so the girls would reach out and touch the plants and feel a part of the garden. She also helped me choose plants that would stand up two girls and a dog running and playing through the garden. She also insisted on doing it all organically assuring me it would be surprisingly easy and giving me peace of mind that the girls would not be exposed to the chemicals in weed killer or fertilizers.
So with a deep breath, we said goodbye to our back lawn, tilling it up, laying down newspaper, and covering it with compost free from the city (yep, that is what happens to your bags of leaves). For a full day, Geoff, the girls and I worked alongside Megan to keep the cost down. At days end, Meghan left me with a plan for where I should put new plants. Within weeks, the garden was like a natural jungle gym for the girls. While I would weed, the girls would look for worms hidden under stones. They would splash in the blowup pool we filled on the patio and then use their buckets to help water the plants.
By June, the girls knew the difference between a dahlia and a daylily. They would race out first thing in the morning to see if they beat the bunny to the ripening strawberry on our strawberry plant. We transferred zinnias Caroline planted from seed into the garden and have continued a contest through out the summer of which one is taller, the zinnia or Mary.
While I left my jug of Round-up on the shelf in the shed, reaching deep into my plants to pull clover I considered how tending a garden parallels parenting. It is in the labor and tedium where you truly feel a part of it all, where you reap the greatest reward. And despite your best efforts, your hard work, your dedication will not prevent a storm or a drought, and you just have to hope that you laid a good foundation for your garden to thrive.
July brought fun flowering things like coneflowers and black-eyed susans. The birds of the neighborhood flocked to our back yard for their seeds. The girls shout with glee identifying the birds, “An American Robin!” The lessons of delayed gratification have been enforced while my sweet tomato eaters waited for green tomatoes to turn red, and we have had a few tears to the cries of, “Mom, Mary picked a green tomato!”
As we settle into August, we begin trimming away the wilted stalks of summer and plan and prepare what we should add to the garden for fall. Somehow, this summer passed much faster than summers before, and I can’t help but wonder if the new found joys of the garden helped us along with something new and surprising every week.
I used to think that pretty gardens were not for people with children because parents just don’t have that time. Now I realize that it is the children who unlock the garden’s greatest gifts.
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