Tropical lily relatives. These are plants grown from tubers, most of which must be dug and stored during the winter. They are lily-like, but not true lilies. Peruvian daffodil, shellflower, achimenes, African lily, blackberry lily (this one is hardy), clivia, rain lily, zephyr lily and many, many others less well known are just as easy to grow as gladiolus. A display of these exotics would be a revelation, a flower show in itself.
Surprise gardens. Flowers that neither supervisor nor children have ever seen or grown can provide both suspense and surprise for everyone. Dealers in unusual seeds have hundreds of fascinating prospects, both hardy and charming, which are classified as "rare" simply because so few gardeners try them. Many are as easy to grow as radishes.
Demonstration gardens. Devote a garden to the study of a single plant and its many strains. Take a simple subject like lettuce, for example. Round up representatives of each type, and include gourmet varieties like Bibb and Matchless, the various forms of endive, and novelties like the purple-red Salad Trim and the miniature Tom Thumb. Exhaust the possibilities for growing lettuce during hot summer months and into the early winter.
Similar comprehensive explorations could be made into any number of other garden subjects. The whole gamut of marigolds, for instance, would be a simple subject but a revealing display.
Or, take chrysanthemums for a study, including annuals from seed and every type of hardy mum-English, cushion, spoon, pompon, button, and so on.
Or, concentrate on squash, in all its diverse forms of winter and summer varieties, which are almost as heterogeneous in shapes and colors as its inedible cousins, the gourds.
Even corn would provide an illuminating experience if you include the decorative strawberry and squaw strains, popcorn, and midget corn, in addition to standard white and yellow sweet corn in both early and late varieties.
Such undertakings call for a thorough searching of a lot of catalogs to round up all possible appropriate material. Few adult gardeners ever have more than hearsay knowledge of the full range of varieties within any given category. Nor is it often practical for them to do this sort of research. But a group director may sometimes be able to accommodate one such study each season.
At summer camps, of course, the group leader has a wonderful opportunity to see that youngsters pick up odd plant materials to be used in winter hobbies. Chapter 20 covers several projects that should be provisioned during the summer.
A construction suitable for on-the-spot camp work could be an adaptation of the miniature outdoor sink gardens covered in Chapter 21. Instead of a permanent garden, made in a container, this would be a temporary one, built right on the ground.