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