When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she vowed that when she grew up she would travel the world and live in a house by the sea. “ There is a third thing you must do,” her grandfather told her. “ You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Miss Rumphius fulfilled her dreams. She saw the world and returned home to live by the sea in Maine. But she wondered what she could that would make the world more beautiful.
We gave the book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, to our daughter Aneliese for her fifth birthday and she was delighted. Birthday gifts in our home are often quite simple but we try to make it special towards a current interest and development of the birthday child. We love seeing how they respond and interact with their gifts and although we have definitely had a flop or two, this Miss Rumphius was most certainly not one.
You see, Miss Rumphius makes the world more beautiful by planting lupines in the rocky ground of her garden.
Those lupines spread their seed to bloom all over the hills and headways around her seaside home. Miss Rumphius planted beauty and it multiplied immeasurably. Aneliese had heard the audio of Miss Rumphius and had expressed the desire to scatter seeds as she had, thus birthed the Miss Rumphius garden birthday gift.
Unfortunately, Lupines, though beautiful, are technically considered a weed and are actually toxic to horses and cattle (of which we have both) so our Miss Rumphius garden will be Lupine free.
How to Plant Your Miss Rumphius Garden:
What you will need:
- A Copy of Miss Rumphius; bought or library borrowed. (To see some of the lovely art from the pages go here)
- Packets of Flower seeds; wildflower, butterfly, or cottage garden mixes are an excellent and easy option as they give a variety of types and colors, have perenniels and reseed, and grow in varied soils, including poor, rocky soil. They are also easy for even a small child to spread.
Other ideas for additions if this is a gift;
- – A hand trowel or rake
- – A child’s garden trug or basket (then you can arrange everything inside that)
- – Gloves
- – Small watering can
Planting your Miss Rumphius Garden:
- Prepare the spot for your garden by turning the soil and lightly breaking it up. For the apartment dweller or those without a garden spot, simply fill a pot, bucket, or any tub with some potting soil. Make sure there are some drainage holes.
- Follow the seed packet instructions for planting and growing. Usually planting instruction for these types of seeds is to scatter the seeds (like Miss Rumphius) and then lightly cover or rake the soil. Keep the soil lightly watered and try to maintain dampness until the seeds begin to sprout.
- Another variation could be to simply scatter the seeds in an area where this would be acceptable (if need be, ask first!)
Remember together that an act of beauty, whether a flower garden or a kindness shown, can spread far beyond what our eyes can see.
A Miss Rumphius garden is just one opportunity to show love to others and thankfulness to the Creator who has so richly blessed us with the ability to create and enjoy beauty.
How do you draw your children into the process and journey of adding something beautiful to the earth? How has that brought you and they to a deeper understanding of God the Creator and our role in creation?
As you and your children tend your Miss Rumphius Garden take opportunity to remind them (and yourself) of the great responsibility that we have been given as stewards of this beautiful world.