A Budding Botanist?

imageThis is a picture of a budding Botanist, or at least a gardener.  Chris, my youngest son, had a school project for biology. The intent of the project was to design an urban container garden that would minimize impacts of urban growth and could be applicable to a field-to-table restaurant. No, I am not making this up.  When I was his age, most of the projects involved making a diorama, or a poster of some sort.

Chris showed a lot of interest in this.  He made two installations. One was a hanging garden, composed of sticks half-hitched (a Boy Scout skill involving using cording to tie together sticks), and several re-purposed containers, such as a 2 liter soda bottle, and several aluminum cans.  It is a bit hard to make out, but the 2 liter bottle portion of his project is in the photo (look at his right hand) is now transplanted in his (designed and built by Chris) plant box.  He made it so that the plant came out the bottom (i.e. the tomato plant you see here, against the house).

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 9.15.39 PMThe second installation he re-purposed our dog crate, which he wrapped in plastic, and grew several herbs, such as the basil plants shown in the foreground. It was interesting to find him daily tending to his dog house/hot house. Carefully making sure it was watered daily.

This week, he built up several wood frames from 2×4’s and assembled them into this planter.  It was nice to see someone not just expend their time on the usual teenage pursuit of video games, and television.  I asked him what motivated him to spend so much time on this. I’ve noticed in both Peter and now Chris, an interest in gardening. Originally, I was thinking this was motivated by Licia’s yearly garden. A good and modest that keeps us supplied in basil, occasional tomatoes, and a surprising number of yellow squash, and something Peter has greatly enjoyed helping out with and even planting his own plants.

Or maybe there is a Dad gene at play here. I remember growing a single corn stalk from a seed, just outside the Glenmont (Maryland at the cross roads of Randoph Road, and Georgia Ave, about 10 miles outside of DC) apartment building I grew up in. There is a nice picture of me, maybe 10 years old, standing next to a 4′ to 5′ lone corn plant a full foot taller than me.  The idea that I could make something bigger than me, literally, and figuratively, apparently amazed me.  It was from a kit my grandma and grandpa Routson gave me for my birthday.

I had situated  the budding plant, which I grew from seed in the kit given to me, next to the outdoor air-conditioning, unit, (e.g the “green thing” we used to call it) to hide it from the hoard of rambunctious apartment kids.  We regularly trampled through the nearby playground and common areas, where we played green light/red light, red rover, and kick the can when I was a kid.   I hid it because I was afraid it would inadvertently be trampled. Also, I was fearful that once the stalk became noticeable in size, someone would have one millisecond of joy, kicking or whacking it to its demise, despite my careful and time consuming effort to grow and mature it. In fact, someone did have their one millisecond  of fun, and a few days later, the plant was destroyed by some unknown, budding, surely criminal assailant. I didn’t bother growing another.  But the growing experience made a real impression on me.

I remember the fascination I had that something could grow from a hardened seed that seemed lifeless.  Chris’s stated motivation is that his biology teacher had said something along the lines of “and boys, don’t feel bad, you usually do not have a green thumb.” I am sure that this was a reflection on the half effort many high school boys exert when not highly interested and also a half kidding comment for the boys.

So, anyway, he really took the project to heart over a few months. I told Chris, anything he wanted to do in gardening around the house, I would  bank roll. He would just have to let me know the idea before hand. I would  see where this went. I challenged Chris to clone our rosemary plants to hedge row status like I saw in California.


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