Rabbit Garden in a Wheelbarrow
or "Lettuce Have Lunch"
April, 2003

At the dollar store, I found neat wooden wheelbarrows among the Easter goodies. They are about six inches long.

As soon as I saw them, I thought, Rabbit Garden! Since my out-of-town grandchildren were going to be visiting during Spring Break, I figured we would all get together to do a project, so bought one for all four children, one for my prototype, one for the work-through-with-the-kids and one for Tayna. She came over that Saturday afternoon and worked along with me as I planned the garden.

And here's how the idea translated into my prototype.

Brown florist foam was used for the garden base, with four grooves cut with my craft knife for the planting rows. I used my thumb and the knife to round off the front edge of the garden and deepen the grooves somewhat.

I did a trial fit of the foam and decided the interior of the wheelbarrow needed something. So, a pale blue paint was used for the sky, then white paint was dabbed on for the clouds and it was all wiped lightly lengthwise with a paper towel. (The little suns were added after the gardens were completed; they were found two to a package among the stickers at the same dollar store as the wheelbarrows.) The barrow was set aside to dry while I worked on the dirt.

This is a VERY messy process; the foam goes everywhere and clings. After the first one messed up my entire work table I pulled the garbage can over and worked directly over it. I decided I would cut all the foam gardens myself, and then just let the kids do their planting rows. Also, we would work on the gardens separately and insert them into the wheelbarrows after they were completely finished so as not to mess up the interiors.

The next step was the same process I used for the pumpkin gardens - mixing brown iron oxide paint with Tacky glue. This is painted thickly over the foam top, then sprinkled with a dirt mixture which I concocted from sifted sand and unused coffee grounds.

We used paper plates for all these preparatory stages. That way we could pour excess dirt back into the container and just throw them away when they got too messy.

Here are some of the materials I thought might be used for making the plants. I was thinking about carrots, green onions, lettuce and cabbages. At first, I thought about making the carrots out of Fimo, but decided with four children that would be too time-consuming, so experimented using toothpicks, and was happy with the results.

I made LOTS of toothpick carrots, about half to three-quarters of an inch long, figuring ten each, so we would have some planted, and some pulled.

That's dried green spirea used for the carrot tops. It's very fragile, so I was prepared for that when the kids worked on their projects. However, they were quite careful, and more nimble-fingered than I in gluing the greenery to the tops of their carrots.

That's the lettuce in the foreground, cut from the blooms in the plant material picture above; they ranged from pale yellow to this green to a pale purple.

Here are some of the pulled toothpick carrots, dirtied with a brown wash.

This rabbit is enjoying one of those fresh, crunchy carrots.

This one had a hard time deciding whether he wanted onions, cabbages or an Easter egg from the Easter Egg Plant. He decided to test one of the budding cabbages. (I know cabbages don't bud - but had to have some good reason why these were so small!)

We used that spiky pale yellow and green plant for the onions, using at least three snips for each plant. We used the same greenery to make the Easter Eggplant.

The blooming eggs are flower pips with their original white stems painted green. The pearlized ones came in those colors; for the others I dipped white pips into acrylic paint. These were very fiddly to do, so I decided to prepare all the Easter eggs in advance, just as with the carrots.

While they were working Joel found on the floor one of those tiny berry clusters that look like grapes(what can't one find on my workroom floor?), and he decided he wanted grapes growing in his garden instead of an Easter Egg Plant. So that's what he did, and Jenna; and although Joseph wanted the Easter Egg Plant, he decided he wanted a grapevine, too. Laura, the youngest, almost-four, was getting tired by that stage, so she didn't want to do a grapevine!

Here are Jenna and Laura admiring their gardens.

That's Jenna's garden on the left, with her grapevine. Laura's is on the right with her Easter Egg Plant. I let them all pick the rabbits they wanted to use. There are little plastic watering cans on the left side, which unfortunately are hard to see. I tried to get them to turn the cans at an angle so they would show up better, but they liked them this way - and after all, it was their garden!

Here are Joel, left, and Joseph, right, with their gardens.

That's Joel's garden on the left, with his grapevine. Joseph's is on the right, with his Easter Egg Plant and a short gravevine.

Having done projects before, they all remembered to clean and tidy things periodically, and to wash and care for their brushes. By the time we were finished I was in a rush to take pictures before my daughter came, so these are not as clear as I would wish. However, the gardens were all delightful.

This turned out to be a great project, and a good learning experience for me because I now try to make a prototype before I do any kids' project. The kids were all very proud of their gardens and displayed them on the family coffee tables. After Easter, the Rabbit Gardens joined other projects displayed in a cabinet or entertainment center in their homes.

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