by Paige Puckett—
One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting my second-grade teacher’s home. There was a greenhouse, beautiful gardens and paths, and a network of cobblestone trenches through the woods. I remember her saying her father had created them for her as a small child, and I don’t know if the trenches served a functional purpose other than a child’s whimsy.
I love the concept of secret passageways leading to grand adventures. When we lived in downtown Chattanooga before moving to the country, my brother and I once tied string up between trees to make our own paths through a vacant lot next to our house. In creating the new garden this past spring, I wanted to capture the spirit of childhood exploration for my small boys. This led to a vine tunnel, winding paths, and a bean teepee.
The quarter-teepee, dubbed “teebonacci” because of the rough Fibonacci spiral of the poles, is the boys’ garden house. I oriented the poles to face southeast, assuming the bean vines would appreciate the sun and maximize the shade for the little ones. It stands next to the garden fence in the corner where moonflowers are working their way up 4-foot posts and leftover tomato transplants grow just outside the garden where they fight for their existence despite our friendly neighborhood deer.
Now that the bean teepee is nearly fully covered in vines, the boys have started taking more interest in it. However, the vines have migrated around toward the north side, nearly closing off the triangular entrance to their hideaway. Thankfully, a wooden ladder I picked up at the flea market this spring (a gentleman was using it to display his clothes for sale) is the perfect solution for giving them just enough of a tunnel into their house while holding the unruly vines at bay. Sometimes, when the boys are napping, I’ll crawl in there too just to look around and smile.
Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.