How did it ever occur to us to study such a radical subject as gardening? It could not have anything to do with the fact that every single "What your child should learn" syllabus lists it as a mandatory science item for alternating years until graduate school (or the 5th grade, whichever comes first). Our approach to the subject was surely more original & organic than that...
Katrianna was the one to push seed sprouting as part of her academic agenda this year. But, in the interest of full disclosure, please note: We do not claim to have invented the lima-bean-in-a-ziplock experiment. As far as I know, kids have been doing that one since around the time man first discovered fire. Only they used those other baggies, the old-fashioned kind, with the fold-in flaps. That's right, the kind we parents used to pack our pb&j in for summer camp, the ones made from the lining of goats' stomachs instead of the "zipper seal." But same idea. (Note to Homeschoolers: add this bit of trivia to your homemade world history timeline, charted on scrolling butcher paper, which winds its way around your dining room and down the hall.)
Really, if you want to learn more about lima bean sprouting origins, just take the guided Lascaux cave tour in France. (Did you think they painted all the time?)
And, as much as I'd also like to claim Katrianna's gardening interest was an offshoot of my playing Audrey Hepburn and our touring around the Gardens of the World, that's just not so either. It was not the result of seeing Monet's Giverny, British Columbia's sunken gardens, Portland's famed roses, or even Stratford-Upon-Avon's very own "Shakespearean herb garden" (bet Shakespeare wished he'd thought to capitalize on that back in the 1600s - he might not have had to struggle with playwriting & instead could have turned his father's glove making business into a gardening glove making business, thereby assuring his future success).
No, none of those visits made my daughter green with envy. The real impetus for Katrianna's verdant desires was simply sibling jealousy (but I do claim quite a bit of credit for fostering that whenever possible). When looking through Mikaela's old portfolios last summer, Katrianna found her sister's original flowers & seeds section, completed when Mikaela was 5 and she was 2. Exactly what was the attraction? It wasn't the nifty construction paper seed parts with their movable flip-up features, or the labeled diagram worksheets, or the still life watercolor renditions à la Georgia O'Keefe, or even evidence of her sister's kindergarten attempts at flower-themed Wordsworthian sonnets.
The pure motivational factor in this sudden passion for gardening was to acquire her own set of pages with seed packets & seed samples glued beside them. That's it. They were colorful, commercial, tactile, and as close as our family comes to displaying glitz & glamour. And, most importantly to both girls, it was that subtle "I have something you don't have" quality, repeated in singsong delivery week after week, that made it a must-do school project.
Leading us back to Shakespeare, who captured the universality of this phenomenon when he penned that famous, so oft quoted line from Romeo and Juliet:
Do you bite your green thumb at me, sir? (Act I, scene i)
So, with that, we will Candide-ly continue to tend our own gardens...