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Neglected plot blossoms, thanks to work of Annapolis Elementary students


Tameka Palmer, 8, pointed to the pale blue pansies growing in a raised bed by the Newman Street playground. "Those are mine," Tameka said. "I planted those."

The flower bed, an oasis amid asphalt, is the work of more than a dozen 16 Annapolis Elementary School students who enrolled in an after-school pilot program sponsored by the Annapolis Gardening School.

"The idea was to teach the kids the value of the land," said Gretchen G. Krochmal, program director of the two-year-old gardening school.

"It's micro-gardening, so you pick a small plot. The kids can identify with the size."

And with the place. The once-neglected bed is at the edge of the city playground adjoining the school parking lot.

The after-school program lasted several weeks. A $330 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust paid for tools, mulch and other items. Children started with seeds, courtesy of the America the Beautiful Foundation. Many seedlings didn't make it. Youngsters were so thrilled with what grew that they took home the young black-eyed Susan and tomato plants.

"Mine grew into beautiful flowers," said LaKendra Brown, 8.

That left the flower bed empty until Homestead Gardens came through with a flat of pansies.

The program has the blessing of Principal A. Duane Arbogast. He said that for many pupils, gardening "is really out of the realm of their experience" and the club can widen their world.

"It was a wonderful experience," he said. "The kids put in their effort and interest and have a product at the end."

The flower bed and one a few feet away that was redone by the garden school and volunteers in the city's Greenscape program add a little natural color to the back of the school.

Patricia Aprigliano, a second-grade teacher, put in a garden behind a portable classroom. She designed the garden of shrubs and impatiens to teach her students about birds.

Several students have been tending the newly planted red and white petunias on each side of the front steps of the school. Some were there weeding the plot yesterday, the last day of school.

"I like doing it so it will look nice for the public and other students tTC who will be coming to the school," said Katy Simison, 10.

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