Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.

Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

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I don’t know who thought of the phrase, “putting the garden to bed,” but for me it conjures up memories of settling in with my class, or my own small children for the long dark winter months, reading lots of great fairytale picture books and knowing that our garden is sleeping safely under a deep blanket of Vermont snow. It’s a time for completing the traditions of the growing cycle and reflecting back on the great times we’ve had in this garden through the seasons.

First graders under the morning glory arbor in October.

I thought a few photos of our arbor in summer and after the first frost would help to illustrate how a garden can encourage children to consider change over time.

Arbor, post frost.



Is it time to mourn the memories of brilliant marigolds or time to accept their inevitable decay and rebirth?

Cleaning up the marigold row.

First grade friends.

Students from Kindergarten to fifth grade participated in  clearing dead vines and tough root systems. They piled wheelbarrows high with decaying matter for our compost pile. Third graders and Kindergartners worked and played together on this warm fall “Garden to Bed Day.”

Multi-grade teamwork.

Good-bye sunflowers!

Earlier in the morning, I cut back half of the raspberries. The students carted them off to the compost pile. We’ll see if that side yields a better crop next June.

Happiness is dancing on a compost pile!

Clearing raspberry canes.

The great surprise at the end of their workday was the arrival of our local organic farmer Paul Harlow and his tractor tiller. The tiller is an impressive piece of machinery,  especially if you’re 3 feet tall. One Kindergartner waxed poetic at the sight of the gleaming disks. “Hey, those look like the cymbals we play in Music class!” Another pointed to the letters on the side of the tractor and carefully spelled aloud the word, ” KUBOTA.” Paul kindly fielded questions from his rapt young audience. Watching the earth  being turned over in preparation for winter is a time honored ritual in this town with its deep agricultural history.

Tilling the garden after clean-up.

Guest speaker, garden classroom.

Author: vermontschoolgarden

I have been an elementary teacher at the Westminster Center School for 30 years. For most of those years, I maintained a garden as part of my teaching curriculum resource. Now I am the Garden Coordinator for all of the Westminster Center School classrooms.

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