Dec 27, 2013

Happy Holly Days!

Kids, all kids are brilliant and inspiring. They can be so much fun and funny with their eager faces brimming with curiosity. Then they have me pulling my hair out or they are pulling each others' hair out while tripping on bags and shoelaces. I work with children at PS188. Over the past few months we've collected and eaten tons of seeds, gutted pumpkins, sung songs about trees and inchworms measuring marigolds; made leaf-shaped cookies, pricked our fingers on junipers and squished berries. As part of our classes about trees, shrubs, healthy eating, the environment and gardening (without having a garden) we talked about the importance of evergreen trees and shrubs in the winter landscape as habitat and food for non-migrating birds.

Juniper berries are attractive. Cones on pines, spruces and firs are emblems of the winter. However, no plant says Holiday Season like holly. Birds depend on holly and juniper berries and seeds from cones when the ground is frozen or covered by snow as chances of finding insects and worms are slim.

With deciduous trees truly bare and some snow sitting on the ground and rooftops of Coney Island, our lessons become more than just theory. Next spring we will plant Ilex verticillata as part of our habitat-pollinator-eco garden. Ilex verticillata makes the showiest display of berries but Ilex opaca combines berries with lustrous evergreen spiny leaves; all interesting shapes and colors to attract hungry birds. It is the most popular choice for holiday cards with kids.

This New Year may your days be berry and bright and may your life and gardens be filled with joy and happy creatures in flight!
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