Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Planting the Wild Garden: A book review

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith was delightful! Wendy Anderson Halperin added to the story through her illustrations. While the book didn't focus on specific wildflowers, it showed that many animals and other natural forces help "plant" wild gardens. This is a basic look at seed dispersal. The illustrations are lovely--I like seeing all the different types of seeds inside the front and back covers. The story starts with a farmer and boy planting seeds in a  garden. Illustrations of the process of the new seed growing toward a plant that can be eaten are shown along the outside edge of the main picture.

The reader then is guided through other ways seeds are "planted", such as wind dispersion. The illustrations show the wind scattering the seeds. Sound words are included which make for a great read aloud book. Even the text is whimsically patterned like the wind on this page. Small details like this make a difference.

The goldfinch is used to illustrate how "droppings" can help in seed dispersal as well. Lots of great thistle drawings. Sound words are included once again. Little information is given on this section that briefly looks at scat (poop) as a way of seed dispersal. This keeps with the dignity of the book; however, I like using that gross factor to get children's attention.

The Scotch broom plant (invasive in the western US) is used to show how some seed pods POP! Fun illustrations show that progression. Personally, I love jewelweed locally, one of the touch me nots. This is such a fun little plant that makes me happy!

Rain is also a way that seeds are moved from one place to another. Plip-plop! Love how the gray lines show the rain in this illustration. Moving beyond the rain, a stream is shown as another dispersal technique with some making it to the banks to grow the next year.

A few animals are also part of this dispersal process, looking at a rabbit started by a fox and spreading seeds in the process. Seeds also attach on her fur, with a mention of cockleburs and creeping through Queen Anne's lace (also came from Europe). I like that they mention how they "hook" onto the fur. Raccoons also feast on blackberries and bring seeds with them. Squirrels bury acorns to store for the winter, yet often become trees if not found again. The author even looks at us as humans and how seeds catch on our socks and pants and muddy boots. We also love blowing seeds and helping with wind dispersal.

The author ends with "Seed by seed, we planted this wild meadow garden. Wind and water. Birds and animals. Plants and people. All of us. Together." A bibliography of additional resources is included at the end.

I really liked this book that looks at seed dispersal! It's great for preschoolers and could be used for elementary school as well, using it to set the stage and then talk in more depth of various seed dispersal methods.

There could be many extensions to use with this book, such as the classic activity of putting an old sock over a leg and going for a hike to collect seeds. This can then be planted to see what "grows" from the walk. One year, my son didn't want to put the sock on his leg, so we made it into a little animal puppet that scampered through the meadow. This could be another way to include imaginative play as well. Additionally, I like to collect milk weed pods (with seeds) and cattails to experience wind dispersal of seeds with preschool and young elementary school children. It's a joy to watch them with the seeds, similar to the mesmerizing effects of chasing bubbles. We've been trying to gather and plant our milkweed seeds around the perimeters of our yard, hoping for more this next year.
This Classroom Bookshelf website share various activities and extensions for use with the book. Great ideas! Additional activities can be found on the Growing with Science blog. This is a starting point to discover seed dispersal. Personally, I'd like to look at how ants disperse seeds more, which isn't included in the book. However, the book renews my interest and is a great way to share with young children. The sounds and action words help make it a good read aloud.

This post may contain affiliate links. I can find this book locally at the Bristol library.