Montessori Garden – There’s 15 Children Running Around Without Smocks and Open Cans of Paint


I should have known better than to plant that many seeds, but I didn’t want to methodically plan my garden, nor did I want to be patient about its growth patterns.  So instead, I told my husband, a former landscape designer with a degree in Environmental Design, “I need some space to garden my way without any rules.  I’m going to Montessori garden.”  He said, “OK, I’ll take Ben inside and leave you alone.”  At that point, Ben, my ten month old son at the time, at the end of April, was pretty dirty himself from digging in the garden.  So my husband took Ben inside and I was left outside to commune with my inner

Marie Montessori

Marie Montessori.

My husband has helped me plant some sunflowers, wild flowers, and red onions in another garden bed.  Everything got measured.  Every step was calculated.  The assurance of sunflowers blooming several months later is 100%.  I had tried to grow seeds in containers inside the house in early Spring, and had no luck.  Hardly any came up at all. 

So, I decided to do this vegetable garden my way.  I had leftover seeds:  cucumbers, tomatoes (three varieties), pumpkins, zucchini, watermelon, pole beans, spinach, lettuce, and a tea rose.  So I had at it.  I cut those daffodils back to the very stub.  The garden bed I was going to use had been an oval contained oasis of daffodils come every early March. 

Photo by memomuse Copyright 2011

Each year blooming bright yellow smiles, shouting, “Look at me.  I am here to tell you Spring is on its way.”  I love those daffodils.  But I always thought, what about the rest of the year.

I felt intense freedom with my newly acquired “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but I know gardening is in my blood.  Afterall, I grew up pulling weeds and picking gooseberries and all kinds of other fruit and vegetable treasures in my childhood garden.”  I dug up the ripe black earth, holding juicy earthworms in my hands, thick dirt caked into my nails, no gloves to protect my hands.  It felt so good. 

So, I planted the seeds by the handful, dropping them in without precision.  I had used so much precision with the trying to start the indoor seeds.  I even measured the damn things with a marked up popsicle stick gone ruler.  That kind of precision is not my thing.  And if you know me, you know I do it my way and much like a wild Montessori paint brush, taking the strokes where I am pulled to paint.  I, at least, dug rows, taking the hand digger and tracing it back in a clean, slightly wavy row.  I dropped in the seeds and told each one it had the permission to be beautiful, wild,  and slightly arrogant how it decided to shape itself.  Then the seeds told me, “We know we are beautiful.” 

The creator, science, God, the universe (fill in what makes sense to you) doesn’t make anything flawed.  I dropped in three or four seeds in each dip in the soil, wanting for sure for something to come up.  I didn’t bank on every seed sprouting.  I thought for sure I’d have some strike outs.  But I am also an Aries and I tend to overdo things. 

Well, as the seeds started sprouting, wow, did I feel beautiful, filled with Kelly green thumbs. 

photo by memomuse

Five in fact on one hand, no fingers, just five Kelly green thumbs.  Then I noticed they grew some more.  I shouted inside.  My Montessori garden sure is something.  And I did it my way.  I remember being caked with so much dirt that afternoon I actually looked black.  My knees and bare feet were covered thick with soil, rich with earthworms, beetles, and bugs.  I almost planted myself.  I am trying to embrace, “Bloom where you are planted.” 

Well, the Montessori garden is growing and thriving. 

Pumpkins, taking over, in the garden. photo by memomuse

Thriving a little too much.  The pumpkins are like a kid with ADHD, running around bare footed and bare bottomed, juggling ten open paint cans across a white carpeted room.  My husband always reminds me, “You told me when we first were dating, ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk; you can always clean it up.'” Then I tell him, “That was a long time ago.  I’m kind of anal now.”  I can always clip back the pumpkins. 

I can also let them wander and meander in colorful orange blossomed flowered curves, where they intend to go.  But what do I do if they strangle the zucchini and throttle the eggplant.  Afterall, being a former teacher, I can’t let the kid with the ten open paint cans pour paint over the shy kid sitting quietly in the corner, dipping her paintbrush in the water color and then rinsing it in the cup of water.

I guess I tend to embrace and invite chaos and then when it is at my doorstep, I kind of panic.  In my old age, I panic more often.  Maybe it is more fun to run around bare bottomed and throw my “control tank top” to the floor and let my inner child run free.  Chaos can be controlled or stopped and nature has a way of working itself out.  That quiet lovely dark purple eggplant will know what to do when the rowdy pumpkin, fat kid, tries to pour the ten open paint cans all over it.  And heck, maybe the kid with the open cans of paint is using watercolors.  If he’s using oil paint, we have a problem and I’ll have to call his parents and have a parent conference.  I might suggest he get some meds or a smock!

photo by memomuse - Three Varieties of Tomatoes

Oh, I forgot, this is a Montessori garden — the cucumbers, three varieties of tomatoes, and zucchini might need smocks too.  They’re a little wild, but filled with blooming fruit.  I can always make pickles, can the tomatoes, and make enough loaves of zucchini bread to open my own bakery. 

Painting by Mischa Vanderspek

That’s the Montessori way – embrace the chaos, especially when it’s at your own creation!

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6 thoughts on “Montessori Garden – There’s 15 Children Running Around Without Smocks and Open Cans of Paint

    • @Jayne,
      Well, well, I’d love to have coffee with you and zuchini bread, fresh out of the oven, with warm butter melting over our muse filled conversation. We’d have to sit on my big ole’ southern wrap around porch. That would indeed be lovely.

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  1. them vegetable gardens! Always such a tease. Mine is barren: hardly anything grows, nothing fruits. I suspect that passers by see it as a sore festering in the already anemic yard.
    BUT the ‘garden’ has a sunflower and a corn growing from the seed that fell from the bird feeder nearby. Both manifested themselves too late in season to be produce anything but foliage, and yet I find them delightful. They are my defiant gypsy plants, pleasant to the eye and somehow comforting.

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    • Women Scorned, Any life in a garden is worth some smiles. I feel the same way. I love that something can grow from a seed that simply falls into the soil. I have zinnias that replanted themselves with drifting seeds. Maybe creativity is like that – sometimes we plant the seed purposefully and sometimes it is an accident and simply grows. Where do you live? I live in NC where it is very fertile soil. When I lived in Wyoming, well, there weren’t any vegetable gardens. Potted plants for a couple months in the summer. What is important is the garden in your heart darling. That is always fertile with plenty of sunshine and fresh love.

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  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday Dr. Maria Montessori | memomuse's Blog

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