- Vegetable Garden
- Fruit Garden
- Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
- Fairy Garden
- Herb Garden
- Grandmother Whip-Poor-Will Memory Garden
- Memory Garden
Camp Whip-Poor-Will, at every location, offered some form of gardening based on available space. At the Waxhaw location, the five acres of flat bottom land was ideal for gardening. With great enthusiasm, a large garden was begun. With the help of tractors, tillers, volunteers, and paid persons, a garden paradise soon was created. Campers looked forward to the activity of action, where moving among the rows of green beans, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, corn, egg plant, bell & banana peppers and petite tomatoes brought squeals of delight!
With the large number of acres available, the most logical garden for campers that would offer the most benefit appeared to be vegetables. One of the best parts about a vegetable garden is the following:
1. Through the use of a green house there is opportunity to watch seed grow to be transplanted in a prepared garden outside with the natural elements.
2. Without a greenhouse it is important to have a good supplier for seeds and plants.
3. Before the decisions are made to purchase plants and seeds, it is necessary to have a design or schematic plan.
4. This plan should take great thought and skill.
5. Considerations are plants versus seeds, fertilizers, growth time, weed and bug control, sun availability and water source. The sky is the limit of choice for vegetables. Every Spring older campers were invited to help with early planting and campers, upon arrival in summer, also helped with additional planting. This increased their interest in picking and taking home their harvest to share with parents.
6. In addition to vegetables planted and harvested, other unusual foods were introduced such as Asian and Latin American foods were purchased to display, to taste, and to learn more.
Good Supervision Needed
1. Exercise caution when campers are in the garden. They can be like locust and clean it out quickly. Good instructions are important.
2. A sample of each vegetable matured is adequate.
3. Some times with bottom land, heavy summer rains prevent the use of the garden as an activity for picking, However, instruction and teaching about the harvest is always possible.
4. Adequate part-time help planting and managing the garden is necessary due to weeds and bugs.
5. Supervision is also needed as water pressure for use of sprinklers is a must in times of drought. Deer can also be a source of irritation.
6. Protecting the garden from deer intrusion needs supervision as well.
Our land was adequate for fruit trees, vine growth and plants. Due to the seasonal man hours needed, the fruit was made available by bringing in varying fruits for tasting to identify to campers, rather than the planting of fruit trees. As campers walked the land, they were able to discover wild strawberries and blackberries for picking, tasting, and taking home. Watermelons, in a game of hide & seek were mysteriously found and eaten.
Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
For several years there was experimentation with raised vegetable gardens with some success.
1. This requires very deep soil beds and very rich soil.
2. Some tomato plants, squash and beans worked well.
3. It was adequate as a planting and teaching tool, though not a bountiful harvest.
One of he most popular and successful gardens were the fairy gardens.
1. Because of the abundance of fern growing along the camp creek, the fairy garden was provided with tree like coverings for the individual gardens.
2. The gardens were lined with rocks and about 4’x 8’in size.
3. Each group designed and laid out their own garden with miniatures as well as nature items.
3. The fairy garden could be linked to crafting of critters, etc. and taken to their group garden on some occasions.
4. Many campers brought little treasures from home for their garden.
5. All of the gardens were declared real winners with such creativity.
Every year a herb garden was planted and enhanced at camp. Much of our foods that are eaten would be very bland tasting without the use of herbs.
1. Campers were eager to smell, sometimes taste; for all herbs are edible.
2.. Herbs are easy to grow and easy to identify.
3. Most herbs are perennial (back each year) such as mint, lemon balm, sage, lavender, oregano and thyme.
4. Each group always requested to take home some of their favorites herbs.
5. Amazing facial expressions of campers, upon tasting and smelling, added to the fun of the herb garden.
Grandmother Whip-Poor-Will’s Memory Garden
Grandmother WPW brought much joy to the campers, and they brought great joy to her. A talented seamstress, she made colorful gem bags for the campers in which to place their gems, found in the creek. Their delight in both selecting their gems and their brightly colored bags with designs was a highlight of gem day. They often came back from the creek to show her their treasures and their selected bags.
Grandmother WPW, lived with Mr. and Mrs. WPW for over ten years and attended camp every day. At the age of 98 she entered her heavenly home, having attended camp the prior day. She was greatly missed by campers, staff, and especially Mr. and Mrs. WPW.
To honor her, a memory garden was planned. The campers gathered in groups at the memorial garden, each group planting white hydrangeas, reading her favorite Psalm 23, and some campers offering a spoken memory at the garden planting, along with special songs and guitar. Each year following, the campers gathered in the memory garden and at all camp time to celebrate her beautiful life, shared with each of them. Hydrangeas were one of Grandmother WPW’s favorite flowers.
Richard and Catherine Ferguson, purchased the camp land on New Town Road and leased the land to the camp. In their honor, a special garden plaque was erected.
Richard (Dick) was a charter Board Member of Camp WPW since 1981. This garden was first developed as a garden to honor the couple and later became a memorial garden for both Dick and Catherine. The garden had some fifteen different varieties of flowers and was bordered with a walkway of creek fern from the property. Daily the campers and staff passed the garden as they walked the path to all camp, and always with gratitude to Dick for his genuine interest in a camp for children.
Mr. Whip-Poor-Will, the Camp’s Garden Expert
As a young lad, Mr. Whip-Poor-Will was introduced to gardening by his Father, who worked in the Family Funeral Business, begun by his Father. Following a funeral, he was often found in one of his gardens, leased around the town. There he found solace and serenity amid the fields of planted vegetables and fruits.
As he and Tommy gathered the harvest, friends would stop to visit this “friendly Dad” and his son, enjoying the personal visits found in those years of the yesterdays. Meanwhile Tommy gathered and waited, later proclaiming, “I will never have a garden, too much work and too much waiting.” Soon the bounty was taken home and distributed to neighbors and friends, as sharing from a hard worked garden makes the reaping all the more enjoyable.
While the years of the past have turned into years of the future, Mr. WPW has seldom been without a garden. Perhaps it is a link to the less busy yesterday years and the memories of a gardening father, now gone, that increases the love for gardening. Certainly, little campers profited from this man, who became the camp expert in gardening, the man who would “never have a garden!”
“Like a great poet, nature produces the greatest results with the simplest means. They are simply a sun, vegetables, fruit, water and love.”
adapted by -Heine