Paper Clips: July 2021

PAPER CLIPS… July 2021

by Elaine Corrington

Summer is finally imaginable…sort of. We look at our yards around town and imagine some beautiful flowers that are visible from the street (most back yard wonders are invisible to us, but with all of the hillsides and trees, we get hints of what might be there). Flowering trees, flowering plants, and flowering thoughts– all bound up together in weather that invites us to get out, walk, love what we see, and dream…as long as it is not too hot.

Shoot. Is there a perfect season? Well, this is as close as we get.
Kids enjoy the gardens in passing (or if you bring it up), but it seems that few of them really want to put in the work that is required for a garden. Sure– some of them are happily involved in gardening at an early age. But the rest? Is there anything that encourages them to start looking at, being in, and enjoying gardens instead of just passing through? Money, imploring, chocolate, new summer clothes, cell phone upgrades, loud demands, pleading?
Nice try, Mom and Dad. Even if some of those incentives work briefly, you are still annoyed at the lack of enthusiasm.
Even the life-long bad gardener might benefit from an opportunity to use gardens to promote community participation, interaction and fun. I know this, because I am a lifetime bad and extremely reluctant gardener. And yet there is one quality that brings one to notice what is wrong in a yard and maybe fix it, experiment with new and very unique garden presentations that don’t require upkeep (or encourage you to do some of that upkeep); and sneak around and surprise and amuse family, friends, and neighbors. That quality? Sneaking humor into gardens that enhances the appeal of thinking about doing something that your community appreciates and celebrates– even if you never tell them you are responsible for these fun moments!
Could just be that kids are the best at this.
Some easy ideas? First of all, they have to draw the eyes to a hidden little spot– or an easily found spot where someone who needs a laugh– or moment to know they are appreciated– finds an unexpected little treasure that was handmade. An easy activity at all age levels is to find hand-sized rocks that have a fun or meaningful shape (heart, flower, truck, animal, etc.), or just rocks of the right size that they like. Once they have found the rocks, they can use waterproof acrylic paints to paint the design they dream up for the rocks.
The rocks may have special messages intended for individuals. Once dry, these funny or beautiful treasures can be hidden in spots where they can be found immediately, or surprisingly found. This requires another quality that will draw kids to the garden: sneakiness! People find great joy in these little garden gifts- and many recipients then like to sneak them into another friend’s or neighbor’s garden (or even make their own!).
Another good way to get kids into the garden? Give them their own little corner where they can use rocks, small pieces of wood, dirt mounds, handmade fences, and houses from old blocks or wooden boxes, and plants to make a little outdoor village where old plastic cars, trucks, dolls, plastic animals, and even superheroes can live out their adventures. Acrylic paints can be used where wanted. Not only will the kids—maybe– appreciate gardening more as time goes on, but they can be thinking of stories with their friends, another skill set! And then, as an unexpected benefit, they are ready to toss the old toys out before winter comes!
Even if someone might never enjoy the work of a wonderful flower garden, the fun of using that space can lead them to create and use outdoor spaces that are unique and enjoyable as adults– with far less swearing