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Mother's Day in bloom . . . Kenmare's fifth grade students
were prepared for that holiday with bright, newly-planted
flowers to give their mothers, following a field trip
to the Garden Center in Kenmare.
By Caroline Downs
The Kenmare fifth graders tested their green thumbs last Wednesday with a visit to the Garden Center greenhouse in Kenmare. The kids studied plant parts and plant growth earlier in science, so getting an introduction to live plants was one reason for the field trip.
The activity was also intended as a way for the students to fill planters they made from empty, used plastic water bottles. The “planters” would then be decorated back in the classroom and taken home as Mother’s Day gifts.
The students got more than they bargained for, however.
“Okay, now, put this flower on the tip of your tongue,” Garden Center staff member Cori Stroklund told one group of kids as she handed around hibiscus blossoms. “It’s like sugar water. That’s why the bees and the hummingbirds like it.”
The kids sniffed, touched and looked at thousands of flowers with Stroklund and staff member Jane Kalmbach as their guides. The two women pointed out easy-to-grow flowers, plants for sunny and shady locations, and uniquely-shaped blooms.
“That one looks like corn,” one student said as the group examined ornamental grasses.
“It is like corn, but it’s called maize,” Stroklund said. “It doesn’t get the ears on it.”
She held up another small pot. “This is an old, old-fashioned plant,” she said. “Now, smell it.”
“Soap!” came the quick response.
“They call it soap plant,” she said, which prompted a couple of her followers to ask if they could wash with it.
With Stroklund and Kalmbach as guides, the young gardeners chose marigolds, celosia, impatiens, petunias or pansies, then potted the tender plants carefully. Some students chose to fill their planters with two flowers, but others preferred a single stem. “I decided to plant just one pansy instead of two,” one boy explained. “Otherwise the roots might wrap around each other and get all tangled up.”
The kids chose their flowers for specific reasons, after discussing the shady or sunny growing conditions in their yards.
For some students, color was most important. “I’ve got a flower in my mom’s high school colors,” one boy said as he looked over his four-pack of gold and burgundy marigolds.
“I like these better,” said his friend, who held up his packet of gold and orange marigolds.
Other students were intrigued by the flowers’ general appearances, especially the kids who selected pansies. “I like the ones that come out purple,” one boy said. “They look like they have faces on them.”
The class finished their work and their plant observations, then prepared to board the bus for the return to school.
“Now, whose flower needs a drink?” Stroklund asked as she held up a bright yellow watering can to drip water onto the newly-packed soil in each planter. “The rest is up to you!”