Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening with kids at Green Chimneys Farm and School in New York

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

If you’ll recall, we’ve featured my great friend Miyako Kinoshita’s garden a couple of times (refresh your memory HERE and HERE.) But what I never said is that Miyako does a bit of gardening in her day job, too. She’s the Farm Education Program Manager at Green Chimneys Farm and School in Brewster, New York. 

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

She sent me these photos of how they’re getting kids involved in gardening in inventive ways the other day, and while I started off this post with a couple of overall shots of gardens at the farm, I am especially fascinated with the photos of the more small-scale efforts they make to get kids involved with growing plants. 

Greenhouse and classroom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

Straight from the source: “Green Chimneys School is a non-profit organization serving 235 children with psycho-social disabilities in Brewster, NY. Nature-based programs, including gardening, farm based education, wildlife rehabilitation, and therapeutic riding are a central part of the treatment approach.

Hanging soda bottle garden. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

“Michelle Marquez is our garden teacher who is both a state certified teacher and avid horticulturist. She implements a 12-month horticulture program that combines academics but also helps the children develop social-emotional and interpersonal skills. The students grow flowers and vegetables in warmer months and do many projects in the green house in the colder seasons.

Bamboo on plywood. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

“These amazing and creative wall gardens were created by Michelle as an example of how without great cost green spaces and gardens can be brought indoors. Especially urban schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other public indoor settings are ideal placements for this kind of gardening. Using soda bottles, milk crates, and driftwood, Michelle and the students at Green Chimneys created easy and neat ideas on how to introduce plants into unlikely places.”

Staghorn fern on driftwood. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

So great, Miyako. I especially love the soda bottle planter, and I think we need to make a few together this spring! It’s so wonderful to see that someone is taking something we all know to be true–that gardening is therapeutic–and using it to help kids heal and grow. Bravo! 

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys

**Green Chimneys is open regularly for tours and farm visits. You can visit them online at at, or if you’re close by, you can contact them for their visiting hours. For a special treat, visit them on Birds of Prey Day on Sunday, June 2nd.

Milk crate on plywood. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys
Office mailbox on plywood. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys
Hanging soda bottle. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Miyako Kinoshita/Green Chimneys


Speaking of gardening with kids, we have a special giveaway today. A few weeks ago I got this great coloring book in the mail (last 2 photos), and I fell completely in love with it. When the publicist followed up a couple of weeks later, I begged her to send me a couple more copies to give away here. Seriously, this is the coolest coloring book I’ve ever seen, and I can’t yet bear to give it to my daughter. Is that horrible? 🙂 It’s called Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, and it’s by Johanna Basford. Comment below, telling everyone what your earliest memory of gardening is (even if you weren’t a kid!), and we’ll choose two people randomly from those comments to win the book. I’ll announce the winners on Wednesday.

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  1. user-1020932 04/09/2013

    that is a GREAT program at green chimneys. i don't think i've ever met a child who didn't like to get dirty and "grow stuff" and they get so excited when their crops grow and produce. i'm going to do that milk crate wall garden with my grandson and niece this weekend!
    earliest memory of gardening? when i was 4 or 5 my neighbor, Thelma, would plant her flowers/ i would watch and the next day when she left for work off i would go with dixie cups to her yard. i would dig up all her newly planted flowers and pot them in my dixie cups and wait for her to return that day from work. she would then "buy" the flowers from me and PAY me to help her plant them. this happened everyday until the flowers were literally just worn out from handling. it's still a family joke that Thelma started me in the nursery business.

  2. Skirmettina 04/09/2013

    My first big memory isn't about actually gardening, but about knowing that I wanted to. I went to England on a university exchange program and remember loving the English gardens - the jolly front gardens of row houses, the dripping-with-flowers hanging baskets at the pubs, and the beautiful country gardens. It took me a few years to have a place to live with a patch of land, but when I did, I gardened and have been gardening ever since for some forty years. Eleven of those years were spent happily gardening in the U.K.

  3. JuleMG 04/09/2013

    My first garden was soon after I got out of college. I lived in an apartment, but I heard that there were community garden plots available, already tilled. I picked up some literature from Cooperative Extension, and my dad helped me put in the first seeds and plants. I remember this fondly for two reasons: my dad is now gone, and I now volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension as a Master Gardener.

  4. siesperanza 04/09/2013

    A favorite garden memory was with my grandpa Earl. I was around five and our family strawberry patch was ready for harvest. It was a hot and humid day in Missouri. Apparently I picked a lot of berries and was very flushed. My grandpa took me to the general store and sat me on the counter. He told the sales clerk that I was a hard garden worker and that I needed a hat. That straw hat was my pride and joy. Strawberries are still my favorite! I live in Oregon now and grow
    the long season Seascapes.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/09/2013

    I'll bet the soda bottle as planter is a big hit with the kids...shows them to look at everyday things with a fresh eye. You never know what you might find being a candidate for usefulness in gardening.
    OK, confessional memory of gardening throughout my childhood and even into early adulthood was that is seemed like mystifyingly hard work and I didn't get why people put forth the effort. I remember my mom changing out foundation plantings and putting in her yearly annuals and wondering why it mattered to her. And, then, BAM, I got married, had my own place and I started to care big time. My mom got the biggest kick out of my transformation and I was happy to give her credit for being a big influence in that department after all.

  6. user-258617 04/09/2013

    I have two very distinct experiences from childhood that set me on my gardening path.

    In the summertime my mother,a Nova Scotia girl, and I, would vacation in her sister's home in Wolfville,NS; a beautiful leafy town close to the Bay of Fundy. My Aunt Freda's cottage was on a sunny hill with a back garden over looking the Bay.The backyard was ringed in raspberries bushes and we had bowls full of fat red berries whenever we liked.In the middle of her backyard was an old-fashioned crescent-shaped perennial bed, the only one I had ever seen, filled with daisies, sweet-smelling phlox, ancient peonies, balloon flowers and four-o'clocks.She had a huge bird bath next to an old laburnum tree always full of thirsty birds flapping their wings for their daily bath.My aunt always had a bouquet of garden flowers in front of a large antique mirror on a table in her living room, and it was in her home that I first developed my love for perennial gardens and flower design.

    My second,even stronger experience,was during a visit to my father's aunt in a small village in England.Aunt Norah lived in a Victorian semi not far from the center of the village.She was a most gracious soft-spoken lady with snow- white hair swept up in a bun, a dark-floral dress with a white lace collar and a brooch at her neck.On arrival she served us a true English "cream tea" with tiers of cucumber sandwiches and cakes, hot scones from the oven served with jam and Devon cream, and steaming cups milky tea served from an ancient bone-china teapot.But it was the tour of my Aunt Norah's garden that truly amazed me. Her backyard walled-garden ,not much bigger then a twenty-foot square, was filled to the brim with flowers;clematis vines and ivy, wall flowers and delphiniums, English daisies and poppies. There was no grass, and every space was used-it was a real English country cottage garden and I fell in love with gardening for good at that moment. I have a photo today that my father took of me walking around the garden completely lost in thought, trying to figure out how and when I would make my own first garden.

  7. typwc 04/09/2013

    My first experiences growing things were planting geraniums with my mother when I was a tween. But some of my most treasured memories involve talking about growing vegetables with my grandfather who has now passed away. I wish he was around now that I have my own yard, so that he could show me all of those little tricks and tips he learned while homesteading in Illinois during the depression.

  8. BethTW 04/09/2013

    My earliest memories of gardening:
    My dad had the most amazing gardens (vegetable and flower). Not until I was an adult myself did I realize what painstaking pleasure and persistence he put into his gardens. His rows were tilled perfectly and not a weed in sight. Always enjoyable was hunting for arrowheads after a good disc / tilling and especially after a rain. But my best memory was walking barefoot in the mud between the perfect rows picking the beautiful produce he enabled to grow. The sun super hot and the cool moist dirt sticking to my feet (and sometimes up to my ankles).

    Now my husband and I plant our garden with our six and nine year old children, who are also finding great pleasure in the garden. I only wish I knew exactly how my daddy did everything in his big beautiful gardens.

    Presently I am a girl scout troop leader and really like to emphasize working with our earth, including gardening. This book looks like a wonderful tool to get the girls excited about gardening.

  9. SonnyFL 04/09/2013

    During WWll all the men were away, Mother worked in a factory & my Grandmother grew most of the food we had to eat. Of course as a very young girl, I thought I was her great helper. Truth be known, I probably got in the way more than helping her but gardening also grew in my life.
    After the war, my Grandmother grew the most beautiful roses and what we now call cottage garden flowers. You know those memory making visions & fragrances that we all love now. My Grandmother had a green thumb and could propagate & grow anything.
    Not only do I love gardening at home, I volunteer in a public garden on a college campus where I started a Friends of the Gardens organization where we maintain the teaching garden, give horticultural classes for the public, provide scholarships for students in the horticultural fields,give guided tours through the gardens and provide a 3 day Flower & Garden Festival, for the past 16 years. Thanks to my Grandmother, I am also in a Garden club, a flower Show Judge & a Master Gardener. I can only hope that all my children & Grand-children inherit this same love of gardening or at least a healthy appreciation for horticulture.
    Thank you for sharing the gardens you get to visit or are sent to you. This has provided many new ideas for my private & public gardening ventures.

  10. Looksee 04/09/2013

    What fun, to think back to by earliest days! thank you!
    I distinctly remember my dear mom bringing me out to the backyard in the spring. We would croutch down, at the edge of her garden, where the flagstone rocks edged the flower bed. She then, very ceremoniously, would lift the rocks to show me the hidden variety of bugs! It was like an adventure! I would then get a "lesson" about the importance of little creatures in her garden.
    This memory is a distant one, recalled with the love it always held for me.
    I took every opportunity to do the same with my children, and now - with my young grandchildren.

  11. deechurch 04/09/2013

    My earliest memory of gardening was when I was a child in Illinois. Next to our house we had an extra half lot that my mother, brother and I always kept planted with vegetables of all kinds. When we harvested our bounty Mom and I would can what we could use and then my brother and I would set up our road-side stand. Under the crab-apple tree we'd have our little table filled with vegetables that we would sell to the neighbors. I doubt we made much money at all but, back in the 50's, anything made was wonderful.

  12. tractor1 04/09/2013

    Miyako is doing a great service, I commend her. I was exposed to gardening from a very early age, I can't remember exactly but probably from 2-3 years old. I spent a lot of time living with my grandparents who owned a lima bean farm and had a huge vegetable garden. My cousin and I got into all kinds of mischief on that farm. One memory I'll never forget is being in the barn with the sacks of beans and sticking lima beans into my nose and not being able to get them out. So off to the country doctor who removed them with forceps, a very frightening experience. But I still love lima beans anyway.

  13. SonnyFL 04/09/2013

    You know I have to write a second time. After enlarging the
    picture of the coloring book & getting a peek at the insides, I hope that the bookstore is able to get this book.
    I also work with children and if, it is not to expensive, this would be a beautiful way to introduce gardening in a new way to our youth.
    Of course, I believe there will have to be an extra copy just for me.
    Again, Thank You for sharing, this time not only a garden but what looks like a coloring book for all of us, no matter how young or experienced.

  14. priscilla_zone5 04/09/2013

    My earliest memory of gardening is going out to my dad's veggie garden + harvesting the first carrot of the season, just wiping off the dirt + tucking in. That image comes back to me every year when I pick carrots in my garden. But his carrots were definitely bigger + better! My dad was an organic gardener 80 years ago when most people had never even heard the term.

  15. peonylover 04/09/2013

    I was perhaps 3. My Dad and I had planted vegetables but the carrots were MINE. As He pulled them from the ground at the end of the season, I was in charge of brushing off the dirt. Then we rinsed them and sat right on the edge of the garden and ate them while we talked about the rest of the plants. (His favorite was radish). My Mom would have scrubbed them clean but the little bit of grit my Dad left was delicious. I am now 65 and I do the same routine with my grandchildren. The edge of the garden talks are the best ever.

  16. dizzykayak 04/09/2013

    My grandmothers were both gardeners. Mostly vegetables, because they were also farmers, but they both had flowers too. My older grandma had a very narrow space between the house and the road that was completely overgrown with lilacs, and violets. No one else went in there, I thought it was very magical. You felt enveloped by the flowers. My other grandma had weeping willows, roses, lily of the valley, pears. We also raided her veggie patch for peas and carrots. I hope she planted extra for us, because we always ate a ton. Oddly my mother was not a gardener. In retrospect, I was the one forcing her to plant flowers. And I was always the one to cut flowers and bring them inside.

  17. Judyatthursdays 04/09/2013

    We lived in the woods and my mother was a gardener; my father a helper, except when he mowed down plants he didn't yet know. I was probably around 7 when I started a violet garden of my own in a patch of woods I chose near the house. I, of course, had many standard blue-purple violets but found some smaller lighter blue ones and some that almost had pansy faces. Then I discovered sweet white violets growing in our lawn and was thrilled to bring home a yellow violet found in another part of the woods. I found bird's foot violets in the wildflower book, but never in our woods. My grand achievement was finding and ordering, with help from my mom, a pink violet from a catalog. Judy_in_Vermont

  18. hummergirl 04/09/2013

    I can't remember not being in a garden first thing in the spring and all summer long. My parents lived on 3 acres next to my grandparents on 2 acres. My Dad would rototill his and their gardens, amending it with compost and manure, fluffy up that soil so it looked like fluffy milk chocolate frosting. I couldn't wait for the rototilling to be completed so we could plant seeds into those perfect little rows he made with the hoe. (I'm sure he wasn't excited as I was, because I probably did not get the seeds in there straight!) But he let me work right along with him, as did my Grandfather whenever I acted interested. Those were the good ol' days for sure. Another gardening memory was sitting and shucking beans with Beatrice, my friend and neighbor,on her parents porch swing. Her Dad sometimes playing the guitar and singing those country tunes - Wow!!thank you Michelle and Fine Gardening for bringing all of this back into my memory! I am sure all of those things and more are why I garden today -vergetable and flower garden.

  19. user-1020932 04/09/2013

    i really like all these first garden experience stories. that's another book for you Michelle after the GPOD volume is published. we were all very lucky to have been exposed and infected with the garden fever early on

  20. LindaJwalker 04/09/2013

    My parents always had a garden. I remember Dad getting the garden ready to plant, tilling with the Gravely. After it was tilled, we had to pick rocks. Eventually we planted the corn, then we had to hill the corn, weed the corn--seemed there was always work to do in the garden! And I promised myself that I was NEVER going to have a garden when I moved out! That only lasted a few years, and then I was looking for where to start my own garden!

  21. Miyako 04/09/2013

    Oh, Gosh, you guys. I have been busy all day and have not being able to comment. I am so excited that this started the childhood memory conversation. My mother had a beautiful garden with white picket fence and creeping Phlox, bamboo, etc... in my home town of Kobe. Then my aunt decided that we needed a formal Japanese garden and had it all being ripped and put pine and some other trees and rocks, not flowers...
    We continued with our little veggie garden in containers. I remember growing cucumbers and eating it every single day.... a part of the reasons why I do not like cukes:-(
    But I always remembered the flowers... I wanted to get back to the flower garden so badly.
    Please if you are near, come and visit. I would be happy to give you a tour of our facility.

  22. user-1020932 04/09/2013

    miyako, you are doing great things there at green chimneys. would be nice to visit and learn some of your techniques that could be used here in Tennessee. after reading your comment it makes me want to visit even more! you would be the best tour guide ever, i can already tell/// have fun!

  23. cwheat000 04/09/2013

    Miyako, you do good work. I very much enjoyed getting a sneak peek inside Green Chimneys. I also, really really enjoyed all the wonderful stories from all you GPOD'ers. My first experiences with gardening didn't happen till I was 9. We moved from an apartment, to our first house on an acre of land, backed by many acres of state land. The house was a Tudor style built in 1919. The property was overgrown. I remember my mom, my brother and I getting really dirty and tired ( a wonderful tired), reclaiming the landscaping. We planted a vegetable garden over the septic field at the bottom of a small hill. Call it dumb beginners luck, but to this day, that was one of the most effortlessly productive gardens we have ever had. That was the first time I had ever tasted a non-supermarket tomato. My mom and I would slice them up with just some salt and pepper. I was definitely hooked.

  24. mallow 04/09/2013

    Planning to help my daughter and grandson (3 years old) both non-gardeners start and maintain both a vegetable and flower gardens. Would love a coloring book to help. Flo

  25. user-1020932 04/09/2013

    gee, cwheat, after having a plastic supermarket tomato for dinner now i want a REAL tomato,,,,preferably a Brandywine, thanks for making me hungry! :)

  26. cwheat000 04/09/2013

    Tntreeman- I had a plastic tomato for dinner,too. Sorry. There is hope on the horizon for some real veggies. I put some cool season crops in today- kale, Savoy cabbage, red cabbage, broccoli, rosemary, romaine lettuce, red sails lettuce. Swiss chard and parsley are going in a planting box by my back door. Tomatoes won't go in till late May here in CT. White Flower Farm, here in CT, has a tomato festival the third week in May. They sell over 100 heirloom/open pollinated varieties. I try to try 10 new ones each year. Some of my favorites are green zebra, new big dwarf, Isis candy cherry tomato, German Johnson (large pink beefsteak). Try some new ones this year. I am rarely disappointed. Happy spring!

  27. cwheat000 04/09/2013

    Tntreeman- Brandywine is awesome too. There is a yellow brandywine that is quite good also.

  28. user-1020932 04/10/2013

    cwheat, i'm late with everything this year except lettuce and chard, i have those in large tall pots so the rabbits can't reach it. will start grazing next week . Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Black are pretty good tomatoes too if you find those to try. i can put tomatoes in first week of May sometimes last week of april and Betty my greenhouse buddy grows them for me in 3 gallon pots so i can get a jumpstart . my goal is fresh tomatoes by the bucketfull by 4 july. you plant a lot of stuff both ornamental and edible, how do you find the time?

  29. cwheat000 04/10/2013

    Tntreeman- I have tried mortgage lifter and Cherokee purple and I love those too. The year I grew them was one of my best tomato seasons. I had crazy amounts from just twelve plants. A few of the mortgage lifters got up to 2 lbs each. Last year was a pretty sad year for me. Critters got more than I did. I hope to strengthen my defenses this year and have some by late July. I try a lot of variety, but I don't have a huge veggie garden. I want it all, there are just not enough hours in the day. I only work outside the home part time and I combine watching the little one with garden projects. It keeps us away from the tv , we get lots of fresh air and exercise during the warmer months, and we eat lots of fresh produce ( much of it before it makes it inside). However,It is a challenge to keep an eye on the 3 year old and my naughty male dog who keeps trying wandering off and flirt with the neighborhood bitches. Somehow most of it gets done. Right now I am behind schedule too. I have many flower beds that need to be cleaned and re-mulched. I am getting a little done each day though.

  30. marciaelaine 04/16/2013

    what a wonderful school. I taught Home Economics for 20 years and one period a day was with special students. The progress they made as they learned to sew, cook, and work on computer aided programs was fantastic and very rewarding.
    The art teacher and I planned a butterfly garden for several of our classes too.
    These are the things missing in children s lives now. They do love to get their hands dirty whether in the kitchen making bread or growing things.
    Both my grandmothers had gardens, my father's mother lived on a farm, and my mother's mother also put in a small garden every year by the garage, which was by the train tracks at the back of our house. I helped my maternal grandmother even though I was very young, I believe that is where I found my love for gardening of all kinds.

  31. Plantastic 05/27/2013

    One fun plant that kids seem to love is the pet TickleMe Plant.
    The TickleMe Plant will close its leaves and even lower its branches when Tickled!

  32. Plantastic 05/27/2013

    I Love my pet TickleMe Plant!

  33. PatrickKnowles 01/21/2020

    I think school can encourage their students to study biology and botany with real examples in their garden. Plus, it encourages students to interesting thoughts and brings them ideas for research. By the way, students can find interesting papers for their classes at and this will help them to do their tasks. Nevertheless, practical knowledge can give a lot and the results of such experience can lead to interesting conclusions.

  34. User avater
    John_Presson 03/13/2020

    I believe that every school and college should have its own garden. In this way, the school can easily teach children and students of botany and biology. This will make learning a lot easier. Because very often students get very difficult tasks that they cannot accomplish. One day, I got an assignment to write an essay on capital punishment.
    I found a great solution to my problem at It was here that I found a great selection of essays on the topic I needed. All essays are written in very high quality and professional manner. From personal experience, I recommend this site. After all, it can help you with your task.

  35. Jamie445677 02/10/2022

    I attended a similar university and found it to be a difficult experience. The standards for producing essays at this institute were extremely stringent. I've always sought for men who could . This decision rescued me from failing grades and being excluded from school.

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