petting garden

My kids are attracted to texture. Anything fuzzy, squishy, soft, squeezable — a toy, an object, a piece of clothing. I’m still surprised when they choose a stuffed animal or pillow over a more dazzling toy, especially now that they’re squarely in the tween/teen range.

(We howled with laughter during this scene in Despicable Me because this line perfectly captured how my kids respond to soft, cute things.)

The backstory

Several years ago (my daughter was in preschool), we were walking to the local park. There, in someone’s front yard bordering the sidewalk was a patch of furry, silvery foliage just begging to be touched. The leaves were kitten-soft, and we went nuts stroking and playing with them.

I later discovered the plant was called Lamb’s Ear. How can you not love a plant called Lamb’s Ear, really?

This was the spark that ignited my idea to plant a petting garden: a collection of plants chosen for their soft texture.

At the time, my daughter was about four years old and my son was eight. It was a wonderful but challenging time for my family, and this whimsical, creative idea, like others I had at that time, got buried under more pressing matters.

The grant

But not completely buried. I was given the opportunity to have one of my Life List goals granted by Procter & Gamble as part of their “Summer Stunner” program. I was encouraged to interpret “Summer Stunner” any way that resonated. For me, that meant a garden project, and suddenly my petting garden idea was jumping up and down with its hand up, hoping to get picked.

I’m not usually one for public goal setting — frankly it’s scary to hold yourself accountable to the Internet. But I wanted to go mightier than just “do something fun.” I wanted to choose a project with meaning, and something I could share with other people.

The petting garden allowed me recall my kids’ earlier years — those magical playground years when a soft leaf was all it took to get us crawling on the sidewalk exploring something new.

It also gave the next generation of neighborhood kids a reason to play in our front yard. (I’ve got the best neighbors, and I love their kids.)

Another bonus: I got to support a local nursery I’ve been patronizing for the last ten years (you’ll hear about Garden Fever in my next story).

Finally, I got to have the wonderful experience of actually following through with a creative brainstorm. You know how it is: too many good ideas get blown away by the winds of busy family life. When you’re able to actually grab one of those ideas and see it through, it’s incredibly satisfying.

Thank you Go Mighty and P&G for reminding me about my petting garden. Onto the plants! >>

Become a Summer Stunner! The Color Tour, featuring complimentary salon services with hot P&G products, will be stopping at a retailer near you. Click here for tour dates and more!