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  • Writer's pictureTom Cavan

Teach your children well

Looking back when I first became a father to three wonderful children I was under the belief that I would allow my kids to choose their vocation in life and I would not impose my will to make them become Horticulturalists. My father grew up on a farm and became an entrepreneur and created a very successful fruit market, then a very successful garden centre. He was not interested in knowing the plants, he was a wheeler and dealer and took on the garden industry and made his fortune without knowing much of anything of what he was selling, but the man could make a buck! Instead, he hired a retired English horticulturalist.

He did not teach me horticulture that inspiration came from all the plants that he was buying and selling. By the time I was 15, I knew more about plants than he did and I was the junior gardener under the wings of an elderly English gardener named Donavon Denmon. Donavon was the complete opposite of my dad, but I was in awe of his knowledge of plants and he taught me everything I wanted to know. Then off to the Univerisity of Guelph, where I achieved an Honours Diploma in Horticulture, and then a three-year stint as A Gardener Forman for the City of Calgary where I gained my field experience in large-scale landscapes.

Our kids were exposed to the world of plants and enjoyed their surroundings growing up in a Garden Centre - Greenhouse (literally) but all three chose different paths due in large to their mother who was their greatest teacher. Anne taught them life lessons that truly grounded them.

I dragged them around with me when they were in diapers when I was watering the greenhouses in the early hours, planting thousands of plants working the Christmas tree farm, then later in life to the flower auction @ 4 am which they all experienced many times over. I think they just liked the breakfast at the Auction house.

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink as the saying goes. I did lead them to water but somehow did not get them to take much more than a drink, and so in some respects, I feel as though I did not teach my children as much as I should have. They all have an appreciation and respect for the natural world so I am thankful for that.

For many years I taught gardening classes to the masses at our garden centre, and horticultural groups all over the countryside. It was hard work but something made me believe it was all necessary. I wrote a gardening column for the Erin Advocate local newspaper and before I knew it got picked up by the Orangeville and Georgetown papers as well. After ten years as a garden writer, I hung up my pen and concentrated on designing and building landscapes for the past 30 years.

For the past ten years, our youngest of three William (now 38 years young) has found his niche in life as we have teamed up our skills building Stellar Landscapes and although not horticulturally inclined has mastered all other aspects of landscaping. Very rewarding and I am grateful for every day in the dirt with him.

Now I find myself with the challenge to teach my grandchildren. I will try to open the green door and see what happens.

So far they are enjoying the cooking.

Gardeners become cooks and cooks become gardeners, the plant world awaits them.

Turn off the TV, put away the cell phones, expose them to the great outdoors, teach them to be stewards of the earth, teach them to respect the earth they walk on, and let us hope they will be kinder to the needs of nature.

So with that ray of sunshine let us become better stewards of our earth.

Engage the children and teach them well. Be respectful of all living things no matter their origins. History has taught us that indigenous peoples all over the world, through time have learned to evolve with nature and respect their environment even before the word had structure and definition, their inherent ability to live in harmony with the natural world has much to teach us as well.

Teach your children well and pull out that old Crosby-Stills-Nash and Young LP while you are at it.

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