Helping little shoots grow

For the past several weeks, I’ve been at Bridgeport Village as part of the VaVa Bloom event with some of Oregon Home’s garden experts, who have been giving demonstrations on various garden topics. The first week was fruit tree expert Jim Gilbert, and for the past two weeks, Nancy Goldman has been holding court.

Nancy’s specialty is planting in shoes. But that doesn’t begin to describe it. Nancy gets the biggest, most colorful high-heeled shoes she can find (Goodwill is a great source) and then she artfully stuffs them with all kinds of sedums, along with a bit of colored glass, stones or other glittery stuff. Who could resist?

Well, the men walking by hardly took a look at our lime green pump that was set out for display. And many of the women shoppers were just too busy to stop, although they did ooh and aah as they went by.

But the young women showed up in force: teenagers to 5-year-olds (with their adult handlers, of course) filled our seats. Charlie was there with her grandmother who like all good grandmas stopped and sat down because Charlie was transfixed and wanted to see how this all went together. And then she shyly volunteered to plant a shoe alongside Nancy.

One of the great things about Nancy’s demonstration was that it showed Charlie, who was about 9, that gardening is not just for grown-ups and it isn’t just for experts. I didn’t start working in the garden seriously for a long time because I had no confidence.

But by using sedums, which aren’t fragile or expensive, and by making it fun and whimsical, Nancy’s demo showed a young girl how not to be afraid of plants or planting. She gave her confidence.

Charlie picked a polka dotted green stiletto and starting working right off the bat. She was inquisitive, bright and just flat-out adorable. And she was a quick learner. In no time, taking Nancy’s gentle suggestions, she constructed a killer shoe, artfully arranged and with some serious bling imbedded in the foliage. Her shoe held its own against the ones planted by the grown-ups. And I’ll bet Charlie goes home and starts thinking about her yard in a different way. Or at least her shoes.

Shouldn’t gardening always be this fun? Join me this Saturday as Susan Lynch joins us to do a demo on container gardening. Bring your daughters — and sons — and show them the joy of working in the dirt.

Robin Doussard is the Editor in Chief for Oregon Home. You can reach her at [email protected].