Summer Projects

Summer calls for picnics, pauses, and projects. Not rushed, drudgery projects but the kind of projects we want to do, on our own schedules. A schedule that moves at the speed we wish Summer moved, slooooowwwwly.

A few weeks ago, I had a visitor who pulled into my western Massachusetts driveway by complete surprise. I was out on the porch watering my petunias and dahlias when Terri Pinder pulled in!  I had to look and look and look again.

After the initial excitement and catch-up (I had not seen Terri in person since fall of 2015), we came up with some plans. The days were beautiful and sunny and the nights were crispy cool, and Terri loved it. One of the plans we made was to visit the local botanical garden.  Our botanical garden here is, like my Florida garden, a work in progress, with changing art exhibits and experimental gardens. The unfinished projects had me thinking hard about the work summer brings. Over the next few weeks, I want to share some ideas for very cool projects that you might find time for finishing, or even just starting during your Florida Summer. Some of the projects involve rest and self-care, some involve great spots for kids, and some are about edible gardening, of which you know we at The Community Garden Center are huge fans.

Summer Project Idea #1:  How about a way cool Discovery Garden for your kids?  In a Discovery Garden, you can be as creative as you want.  Find a large rock, a small paint brush and a cup of water and “paint” pictures on the rock with the water and watch the pictures dry in the sun. Gather some small rocks, dirt, or sand and add some watering cans, shovels, and buckets for playing in the dirt.  Buy some earthworms and add them to a bucket of dirt and discover them again and again while digging.  Save seeds from fruits and vegetables or buy a couple packets of seeds and let your children sow them and learn about them as they grow into plants. If you have a young tree in your yard, call it a Wishing Tree and tie wishes written on strung marking tags to it and let the wind blow through them (they will all come true eventually!)  A Discovery Garden theme could include Butterfly plants, Herbs, Fruits, Vines, or anything that inspires learning.  Truly, these are not just for children!

Summer Project Idea #2: Build a living teepee!  This is a beautiful project that will be loved by children or adults. Imagine a child’s delight while they watch the structure turn green as the vines grow and cling to it. Or imagine your delight when you have a sweet shady place to sit and take a break and unwind with a glass of wine. These are so cool once they are covered!

Find a great spot in your yard for this by considering the vine you will use to cover your structure. Many vigorous vines can handle full or part sun. Make sure to choose a spot with stable ground (not too wet) so you don’t struggle when staking. For the poles, you can use stakes, branches, the handles to broken garden tools like rakes and shovels, found wood, or whatever you have on hand.  Once you create a shape you are happy with, like the teepee structure in the picture, you can use yarn or twine to connect the poles at the top. Tie them tightly at the top and stake the bottom securely. Then tie the poles together with yarn at points from top to bottom. This adds more area for your vines to grasp.

I imagine several different vines that bloom different seasons working so well together. Think of a couple passion vines, a jasmine and a thunbergia all competing to reach the top first. Blue sky vine flowets popping open everywhere, cool purple passiflora sprawling in the sun, and little jasmine flowers throwing their fragrance everywhere.  Sound dreamy?  Let’s build one!