CHILDREN BRING A natural sense of discovery of the landscape. Their antics of digging in the dirt and playing with the pipe may not look like “gardening” from the perspective of a parent trying to protect sunflower plants from the trampling feet of children, but those early encounters with the plants are fertile ground for future growth.
Growing gardeners is serious business. Our world needs us to train the environmental stewards of tomorrow. “Grow: A Family Guide to Plants and How to Grow Them,” by local author Riz Reyes, is a thought-provoking and inspiring manual. Colorful watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations by Sara Boccaccini Meadows on every page of the oversized book create a delightful reading experience.
It will surprise no one who has ever sprouted a seed or watched a tree grow from a sapling to towering maturity that the book reads like an adventure tale. As Reyes writes in the book’s introduction, “Each chapter of this book celebrates the efforts of a few ‘plant heroes’ who have sustained our communities and shaped many cultures around the world.”
From “Mint, Hero of Aroma and Remedy” to “Orchid, Hero of Artistry and Artfulness,” “Grow” explores 15 plants and fungi with “life-changing powers.” Most of the plants presented will be familiar to children. However, along with the practical “Grow Your Own ___” instructions, unexpected discoveries collected under the title “A Potted Story of ___” broaden the understanding for readers of all ages. For example, did you know that mint is named after Minthe, a Greek nymph who was turned into a plant by an angry goddess? Or that pumpkins were first grown in the highlands of Mexico nearly 7,500 years ago?
In simple, straightforward language, the “Meet the Family” section of each chapter introduces botanical nomenclature and describes relationships, like how strawberries, apples, and wild roses are all members of the Rosacea – or pink – family.
Reyes, who grew up in the Philippines on a fruit plantation run by her father, moved to the Pacific Northwest when she was 7 and has always maintained a connection to plants and flowers. Today he is a respected horticulturist, as well as a generous teacher and floral designer who is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with others, especially young learners.
When Reyes was growing up, books and public television provided a window to the world beyond his immediate family circumstances. “It’s pretty cool to be part of something like writing a book for kids and families,” he says. “I am very attached to the ability of plants to teach us many life lessons.”
Having spent his whole life around plants, Reyes hopes his book will encourage lifelong learning. “With gardening, it’s the process that counts and not always the result,” he says. As we all know, gardening is a constant education. “It’s perfectly OK,” Reyes encourages. “Because then you’ll just want to learn more and more.”
Along with a solid history and horticulture, Reyes brings a global perspective to all he does and is committed to inspiring young people, especially people of color, to interact with nature and learn more about nature. environment. “Can you imagine what a beautiful world this could be?” he thinks.
Writing about heroes, families, and relationships is a powerful foundation for a healthy future. Where better to start than in a garden?