Friday, 12 February 2010

Nature and Nurture: Like a Garden

Come forth into the light of things,
Let nature be your teacher.
- William Wordsworth

An oft-used metaphor compares children to sensitive plants in a garden. Each plant has its own specific requirements for its optimal growth, and it’s a wise gardener’s forte to ensure that the plants flourish.

My aim is not to elaborate on the above, but to point out how children’s participation in gardening can instill a deeper appreciation for nature and the environment (activities which can be followed by anyone!).

Perhaps a few readers might roll their eyes considering it to be unfeasible, given that they reside in a 500 sq ft apartment. Of course, although we might be more than happy to visualise a garden of some acres (complete with lawns, mazes, hedges, ponds, gazebos, and greenhouses), a miniature garden can be created in your own apartment, or even inside your own room! A particularly industrious acquaintance at Keble College once maintained a miniature garden of herbs on the small round table in his college room! Thus, the possibilities are many: the balcony/porch, the loo, or even the kitchen’s window sill. In fact, perhaps it is more sensible to grow plants indoors in temperate countries, such as UK, given the harshness of autumn and winter seasons!

Now that we have identified sites to have a (miniature) garden, children could be encouraged to take part in cultivating flowering plants, as well as vegetables. The latter might provide more perceptible utility, given that it could end up on the dining table!

Another activity would be to identify plants, and, if possible, to maintain a herbarium or scrap book with all the information. Apart from providing practical experience, supplementary to the theoretical coursework at school, gardening can instill a love for nature and environment and proactive attitude towards its preservation. Needless to say, it is tough to quantify the aesthetic utility and happiness which one derives from enjoying the garden and when participating in gardening.

Beth Shalom, as Ruth mentioned, is a true hotchpotch of all kinds of trees, shrubs, and herbs, a cumulative result of our father’s background in Botany. Not only are our neighbours very less enthusiastic about this (citing that the leaves from our trees litter their grounds and that our vegetation harbour dangerous animals which are determined to dispatch them off), many a ‘well-wisher’ have advised clearing away all plants and fit concrete/tiles around the house (as is the norm). Houses with a profusion of plants are tagged as ‘haunted’ and ‘cursed’, since the inevitable shade is associated with evil. There are also the practical problems of clogging up the drainpipes and the creepy crawlies which seek either to nestle under fallen leaves or to pay a personal visit to your room. Inevitably, our mother often succumbed to these ‘practical wisdom’, and thus a few plants were hewn down.

Yet, there were so many instances in which we were encouraged to appreciate plants. Our father would demonstrate how to make sections of plants and would show us the cross-sections of leaves, roots, and stems under our microscope. Mitosis was another interesting demonstration. Existing mature trees supplied tamarind, varieties of jackfruits and mangoes, not to mention coconuts (the Kera of Kerala)! There were also other shrubs such as mulberry, cherries, and gooseberry. We (the kids) also used to harvest arecanut, pepper, and coffee. Often we attempted to cultivate organic vegetables: whilst some efforts were successful, it would be a tad disappointing when the so-labelled tomato seed germinated into chilli plants!

If you indeed have a few sq ft, or cents, or acres, why not grow plants and increase the biodiversity of the area? For where flora is, fauna will follow.


David said...

Beth Shalom really does sound a lovely place for children (and adults!) to enjoy.
I well remember being given a small portion of our garden by my father, to do with as I wished. Although the results were often not what I expected, it did introduce me to the gentle pleasures of planning a garden, tending to the plants and appreciating a harvest of flowers that you, yourself, established.

R said...

'For where flora is, fauna will follow'. So true


By using this blog, you signify your agreement to this disclaimer. Do not use this website if you do not agree to this disclaimer.

This blog is published by Sarah Stephen and Ruth Stephen, and reflects the personal views of the contributors, in their individual capacities as a concerned citizen of this planet. The term 'Ecoratorio', as well as every graphic, opinion, comment, and statement expressed in this blog are the exclusive property of the blog publishers and contributors (© 2009 - present), unless explicitly stated otherwise, and should not be disseminated without the written consent of the author(s). The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily representative of the views of any school, college, University, company, organisation, city, town, state, country, or church where the author(s) have studied, worked, worshipped, or lived, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them.

This blog and its contents does not receive any sponsorship, financial or otherwise, neither is it aimed at generating any money.

The matter on this blog has been prepared for informational purposes only, and the reader(s) should not solely rely upon this information for any purpose nor should he/she assume that this information applies to his/her specific situation. Furthermore, the matter on this blog may or may not reflect the current and future trends/developments, may or may not be general or specific, accordingly, information on this blog is not promised, or guaranteed, to be correct or complete. The publishers and author(s) explicitly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken, or not taken, based on any, or all, the contents of this blog. Thus, the reader(s) is/are reading the posts and arriving at conclusions about the information, or about the author(s), or otherwise, at his/her own risk.

This blog may contain weblinks, which are provided solely for the reader(s) convenience. Such weblinks to another blog or website does not imply any relationship, affiliation, endorsement, responsibility, or approval of the linked resources or their contents (over which we have no control). Accessing these links will be at the reader(s)’s own risk.

The publishers and author(s) are not responsible for translation and interpretation of content. Occasionally, the blog might contain subjects which may be considered offensive from certain individuals’ points-of-view, and the author(s) refuses to accept any liability for any psychological, physical, and emotional reactions, short-term or long-term, which the posts might generate in the reader(s). However, each post in this blog is the individual opinion of the author(s) and is not intended to malign any city/town/village, state, country, continent, faith, religion, practice, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, or individual. Neither are the publishers and author(s) responsible for any statements bound to government, religious, or other laws from the reader(s)’s country of origin.

The publishers and author(s) reserves the right to update, edit, delete or otherwise remove, the posts or any comments, the latter of which might be deemed offensive or spam. The publishers and author(s) cannot warrant that the use of this blog will be uninterrupted or error-free, or that defects on this site will be corrected. The publishers and author(s) also reserves the right to publish in print media, in whole or part, any of the posts which might be an edited version. If the reader(s) has a problem with any post, the publishers and author(s) expects them to contact them, explaining the reasons for their discomfort. However, if the reader(s) choose to communicate with the publishers and author(s) by email, the reader(s) must note that since the security of unencrypted email is uncertain, sending sensitive or confidential emails holds the risks of such uncertainty and possible lack of confidentiality.

The publishers and author(s) reserve the right to change this Disclaimer, from time to time, in their sole and absolute discretion. If the reader(s) using this website after the institution of such changes, he/she is signifying their agreement to these changes. The publishers and author(s) also reserve the right to discontinue any aspect of this website at any time.