Planting Joy

How does this garden grow? With wisdom and inspiration from Mom. | Photograph by Jean Lannen
GARDEN LOVE Eleanor Winters, 8, checks on her black-eyed Susans.

Whether you’re seeing them along roadsides or in a garden, black-eyed Susans are always a welcome sight with their cheery golden-yellow petals and dark brown-black centers. Beth Winters, of Rochester Hills, grows many of these perennial beauties in her garden. She and her two flower-loving daughters soak up the sunny plant’s beauty every year, especially in late summer to early fall.

“Black-eyed Susans do very well in Michigan because they’re a native wildflower to the state. They also attract many pollinators,” says Winters, whose passion for gardening was planted by her mother, Carol Corbin, of Troy. Winters has now passed her love of gardening down to daughters Eleanor, 8, and Evelyn, 7.

“My mother has been gardening since she bought her first house 45 years ago,” Winters says. When she purchased her own home 14 years ago, she, too, began to plant flowers and vegetables of all kinds.

“My girls love gardening for the color and the excitement of seeing the flowers bloom,” Winters says. “They love the wildlife it attracts, such as the bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.” This past summer, the youngsters grew strawberries, tomatoes, zucchinis, and more.

Want to cultivate a love of gardening in your children? Winters and Corbin say to start small. With flowers, don’t be afraid to create pots full of color. “Teach them how to water, weed, and tend to the garden to help plants grow,” Winters advises. “Also, keep a journal that shows what works well, with either pictures or words.” As for black-eyed Susans, they do very well, displaying blooms from midsummer until about the first frost — a sure way to add sunshine to your world.