Wednesdays with Words: Zucchini and Larkspur

I read Cindy Rollins’ new book, Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Toward Sanctification on Sunday and wrote my review on Monday.

I’m still thinking about the Zucchini and Larkspur quote.

It may have stood out for me because when I was nine, my favorite book was The Password to Larkspur Lane – a Nancy Drew mystery. I love Nancy Drew, but to this day I cannot tell you if it was my favorite because I liked the story or because I was intrigued by the title. Larkspur Lane drew my imagination. I don’t even think you can grow larkspur in Ohio …

Anyway, I digress.

Now Cindy is actually writing about gardening and the generosity of her neighbors who would drop excess garden produce on her porch. Because produce in the summer was cheap and easy to access, she started planting more flowers and fewer veggies. She and Andrew Kern would both remind me No Sermonizing or Moralizing or Spiritualizing, but the sentence that I love has stuck in my head and I have been turning it over thinking about it in my life, so I’m going to tread a fine line.

Spring on the farm was beautiful. We had lilacs and peonies which made up for much. Rats and sisns and paint and plaster and critters and husbands were all forgiven when the blossoms were on the apples, the ornamental cherry flaunted itself outside the kitchen window, and lilacs and peonies graced our table. One sprig of lilac in a vase can transform the drabbest environment. Timothy and I put in two or three magnificent gardens, and I developed my philosophy of gardening. In the summer, we planted sunflowers in rows, and we would have flocks of goldfinches flitting through the yard. Vegetables were easy to come by and cheap in the summer. Every farmer for miles around dropped zucchini on our front porch. Flowers were much more rare. More and more of my garden space was taken up with them. I had a white moonlight garden, a dried flower garden, an herb garden, a cutting flower garden, and a butterfly section. I cannot see why anyone would plant zucchini when they could plant larkspur. (pg 54, Emphasis mine)

Now, I am not a gardener. [shocking I know] I don’t care for bugs or dirt or outside all that much. But if use the metaphor of a garden as our metaphor for education, what is the zucchini in your homeschool, what are the herbs, the butterfly garden, the larkspur?

The balance of Cindy’s garden leans in one way – toward the beauty, the larkspur. The balance of my homeschool leans the other – toward the practical, the zucchini.

Am I planting the wrong things because I’m afraid the abundance won’t show up on my front porch? 

If education is atmosphere – at least partially – what atmosphere does my garden represent.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been contemplating based on one little line of an amazing book.



  1. Absolutely lovely, Dawn. And that tension between moralizing and sharing a thought is an interesting one, isn't it. I wonder if one of the hallmarks of moralizing is belaboring the point (which you certainly didn't do!), and brevity is a large part of the differentiator.

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