Everything that you need to learn about anything that is important can be found in nature.  In an urban setting, the closest you will get to nature is a wild community garden such as that of the Garland Community Garden that shares its border with an untamed riparian area by a creek, home to many creatures, including a resident owl and leaping frogs.

Mother Nature is the profound professor for those who care to listen. Nature provides the ultimate example of risk management.  One of the basic principles of risk management is to not put all your eggs in one basket—have as many backup plans as possible.

The design of plant seeds is the perfect example of this.  If you’ve ever walked through the woods around the Garland area, you are likely to return home with a few seeds of “Beggar’s Lice” stuck to your clothing.Hackelia virginiana, [Beggar’s Lice] is a biennial plant.  The seeds are burs, and are very sticky. The plant is native but a well-known nuisance in deciduous forests of the eastern U.S. because the seeds can be difficult to remove from clothing and especially pet fur.  The seeding part of the plant—the upper stem—dies earlier than most other plants, and becomes very brittle. Often the entire seed stem, or even the entire plant will come out of the ground if the seeds catch on clothing or fur, aiding seed dispersion.


The seed pods of the Common Milkweed [Asclepias syriaca L.] are another great example of nature’s risk management to ensure the lineage of her various plants continues.  Each plant of the Common Milkweed produces several pods and within each pod there are usually are 50 to over a hundred seeds. Each seed is attached to some feathery down.  The pod dries, cracks open, and releases hundreds of seeds from just one plant.  Most of these seeds will never complete their full life cycle into a plant, but a few will.  And therein lies the lesson for humans:  One good idea is rarely enough. You need to produce many good ideas in order for one of them to find a home and come to fruition. So don’t give up when one of your ideas fails or is reject by others.

Risk management is but one of thousands of skills and lessons to be demonstrated and learned in a garden.  A few of the other lessons include compassion, patience, mindfulness, conservation, appreciation, gratitude, appropriate timing and placement of things and events, generosity, love of the planet and many more.

Nature is also an inspiration for design of inventions that help human beings. The VELCRO® brand of hook and loop was invented by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940's while hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that the tiny hooks of the cockle-burs were stuck on his pants and in his dog's fur and wondered how they attached themselves.

Provide an exception if you can, but as far as I know, the Garland Community Garden is the most unique community garden in Dallas County in that 1) it shares its space bordered by a riparian area on one side and a busy urban thoroughfare (Naaman School Road) on the other side. 2) There are no design requirements for our beds.  Thus, you will see vegetables growing in pots, in a keyhole garden, a raised bed fashioned from concrete blocks, lasagna beds, and other styles.  This fits with the purpose of Loving Garland Green, a nonprofit organization who are the official stewards of this space.  Our garden is designed not to maximize production, but rather to inspire the citizens of Garland to grow some of the food they eat—in their homes or in this garden by presenting different methods, plants and bed designs to inspire them.



  1. MONARCH WINGS—Yes, I’m designing a pair for the garden that will be finished in time for Labor Day

  2. An Annex to our Little Free library.  It won’t be as lovely as the one we have but it will do until something better comes along.  Sometimes we have to operate on the “this is as good as it gets” principle. I hope to get the Little Free Library Annex installed this weekend.  In fact, we may end up with two annexes: one for the children and one for the adults. For now, however, one will do.

  3. Two thermometers:  One in a place that gets full sun and the other in a place that gets full shade.  This makes for a fun activity for parents and children.  They can compare the difference in the two temperatures.  I also plan to create a sign about mercury and how that works.

  4. I’m making an information sign about the purslane (edible weed) I have planted at the children’s garden, Then I will put small garden signs about the garden where it is grows naturally.  The children can then hunt and find it.

  5.  A sign with information about growing hemp in Texas.
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