Tale of Peter’s Garden
With spring and warm weather approaching our children’s thoughts turn to Easter and Easter bunnies. Mine turns to another bunny named Peter Rabbit. You see, every year I have my own Peter Rabbit story going on in my garden. We have a bunny, probably several, that loves to come and steal vegetables from our garden just like Peter Rabbit who stole vegetables from Mr. McGregor’s Garden. This year I plan to line the garden fence with nasturtium and globe basil plants. Globe Basil is a nearly round plant with soft stems and tiny spicy leaves. Nasturtium is an easy-to-grow annual whose leaves and flowers are edible. I have read that the smell from these flowers and herb leaves are repulsive to rabbits and will keep them out of the garden. You can use them in salads and they are edible.
Planning a Peter Rabbit garden can be a great project to not only grow some spring vegetables but also some good imagination.
While doing some research I learned that in the book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, the author was actually an excellent scientific illustrator. Her drawings of different plants were very authentic. The picture in the book of Peter crunching on a carrot was actually a picture of him eating a long scarlet radish. This vanishing radish has been researched by Garden Organic and the Heritage Seed Library to save this species.
Creating a Peter Rabbit garden provides yet another opportunity to read to your child and connect reading to gardening. As you read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, use your garden journal to take notes of the different plants and vegetables mentioned in the story. Talk about the different plants as you read, using Potters realistic illustrations to discuss how plants grow, like carrots that grow underground and all you see are their leafy tops or peas that grow on vines above the ground and since they grow tall they need support. Some of the plants mentioned in the series are vegetables like cabbage and lettuce as well as herbs such as parsley and rosemary. Many of the veggies mentioned are perfect for growing in early spring when the weather is cooler. So it is time to get busy. Let your child do a drawing to plan your garden fashioning it off of Mr. McGregor’s garden. You can use this plan when planting. As you plant make sure enough room is given for each type of plant and that one vegetable does not over shade another since sun is needed for most.
Remember to not overwhelm your child with too big an area. Use a small sunny plot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight. Make sure to include flower seeds to encourage beneficial insects like bees to visit the garden to pollinate. Bee Balm is an excellent source.
Let yours and your child’s creativity run wild to add some storybook charm to the space. Perhaps a rabbit statue or a doll’s blue jacket hanging on a gate would be a great addition to remind us of Peter’s jacket that he left in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Maybe even add some rabbit tracks of your own unless you are like me and have the real Peter Rabbit in your garden. Peter’s garden needs to be successful by tilling the area and adding compost and amendments and fertilizer once the plants are up. Give your child his own watering can and let him/her select his/her seeds from the catalogue. They might pick some with your guidance that would be exciting enough to eat.
Plant of the month: Million Bells: If you’re looking to add an instant touch of summer to your garden or terrace in April, the colorful Million Bells is an amazing garden bloomer. The trumpet-shaped flowers resemble those of the petunia, but are a bit smaller. The Million Bells (Calibrachoa) is ideal for hanging baskets, window boxes and pots, and it also does very well in borders.