Monday, October 29, 2018

Juniper Jo and her magic plant

Sensitive plant (Mimosa strigillosa)
Once upon a time, Sheryl wrote a children's book. She titled the chapter book Juniper Jo, Nature Nerd: Make Way for Weeds and made her main character a second-grader named Juniper Jo Waters. Then Sheryl gave Juniper Jo a best bud named Reed Park and a mean neighbor named Ember South. After that, Juniper Jo went on to discover a "magic" plant on the Fox Hollow Elementary School playground. See, she'd been watching a little yellow butterfly go by during P.E. and missed the kickball when it rolled past. When she reached down to get the ball, she touched a plant, and its tiny leaves folded up like praying hands. Magic!

What Juniper Jo found, she later learns, is a native plant called powderpuff (also sensitive plant). What's more, she learns that her magic plant hosts the butterfly that she was watching on the playground!
Little yellow (Pyrisitia lisa)
What happens next? Well, you'll just have to wait and find out! I'm in the process of finding a publisher and/or agent to help Juniper Jo find a book home. In the meantime, check out this nifty "product" I found while online one day–The TickleMe Plant.


What a great gift idea! Which is why I recently purchased a kit as a birthday present for some little Blanco boys I know. Later, I emailed company co-owner Larry Chipkin and told him about my Juniper Jo book in progress. 

"That's exciting that you are writing a book about this sort of plant," Larry wrote back. "We are also trying to get kids more excited about plants and nature. My older brother Mark and I would grow them when we were children, and I never forgot the experience. He later became a science teacher."

"When we grew TickleMe Plants as kids, I was just amazed by how few people knew about the plant," he continued. "It became more or less my mission to share this amazing plant with the world. My brother makes sure our kits have an educational value as well, and he is also the plant doctor when customers have questions."

Like Larry (he and I are the same age!), I remember touching sensitive plants as a kid and being so amazed. I still think they're magic! Which is why....

I ordered some sensitive plant seeds of my own to germinate and try to grow. I want a sensitive plant of my own to keep me company at my desk. Larry and Mark's TickleMe plants are actually Mimosa pudica, which is not a North American species. So are my seeds. For purposes of demonstration and not planting in our native gardens, that's okay with me! 

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