The great distances that many common garden flowers have traveled and the adventures that brought them here are matters of which most children are quite unaware. Tell them how certain flowers were found growing wild in remote parts of the world, and how they were brought back by explorers and botanists, often at great personal peril. Missionaries and immigrants have also been responsible for introducing many of our now familiar flowers. Several books on this subject are listed under Suggested Reading.
An immigrant garden could be the meeting place of such world travelers as pyrethrum from Persia, chrysanthemums from Korea, lilies from China, gladiolus from South Africa, calendulas from the Canary Islands, sweet peas from Sicily,
balsam from Asia, sweet alyssum and snapdragons from Mediterranean areas, four-o'clocks from Peru, portulaca from Brazil, nasturtiums from Chile, zinnias, cosmos, dahlias and marigolds from Mexico, petunias from South America, and strawflowers from Australia.
A native American garden might be equally edifying. Few children realize that so many of the flowers carefully tended in home gardens are growing wild somewhere, right now, in the United States. California poppies, clarkia, nemophila, penstemon, phlox, lupine, several kinds of columbine, berga-mot, Michaelmas daisies, coreopsis, coral bells, verbenas, gail-lardia, globe amaranth, rudbeckia, gilia, collinsia, godetia, dogtooth violets, trillium, brodiaea, certain varieties of iris, cardinal flower, tradescantia, and many, many others are real homespun native Americans.
Children capable of simple research may be assigned to bring in lists of qualified candidates for all of these special gardens, heightening interest by preparing their own selections. Seeking out the necessary information will lead them on a profitable journey through seed catalogs, garden encyclopedias, botany books and plant explorer tales.
Most children love to experiment. There are innumerable ways to satisfy this instinct, and here the group director has a great advantage over the parent working within the hmits of a home garden. He can, for example, make plans for his young charges to explore possibilities such as the following:
A round-the-calendar display of iris. In mild areas iris can be blooming every month of the year with no trouble at all. Hardy dwarfs start the season off in March and Stylosa varieties fill in the winter months. In colder climates Stylosa will usually bloom on schedule during the winter if grown in a well-protected coldframe. Consult the catalogs of iris specialists to learn what can be done in your particular climate.
Lilies from seed. This plot should feature a wide selection of the true lilies, in named varieties or mixtures. These may be sown in open ground or in flats or coldframe, in the early spring, late autumn or during the winter. A few varieties will begin to blossom a little the first year.