AT HOME

CULTIVATING GOODNESS

The Talent of Lucie Galvin

By Robin Phillips | Contributor

MAR-APR 2021 ISSUE

Photo courtesy of Nicole Capretz and Climate Action Campaign

If sunshine were a person, it would be Lucie Galvin. The longtime Corona Del Mar resident is an inspiring gardening teacher to all ages, a lover of all things blooming and growing, and a budding digital artist. If you have lived here a while, you may have seen her in action teaching gardening workshops or perhaps even hired her. The pandemic has put a damper on in-person instruction, but ever resourceful, Galvin turned to social media and the internet to showcase what she does best. “It became handy to show clients my style of gardening and teaching through Instagram—so they’d know that I’m not about installing marble pillars and swimming pools—but about blackberries and ladybugs,” she says with a big smile. “I show people how to organically grow fruit, flowers, and veggies in their backyards—porch, balcony, or schools—with an emphasis on health, imaginative play, and respect for wildlife.” Galvin comes equipped to every workshop with quality plants, seeds, tools, and a selection of children’s literature to lend some inspiration to her youngest students. Her @GardeningwithChildren Instagram reflects a seasonal rhythm for gardening that is designed to inspire parents and children throughout the year. To reach older students during the pandemic, Galvin volunteers with Nepris.com where classroom teachers connect virtually with industry professionals for lessons or in real-time. She also continues safely distanced, masked-up outdoor workshops with small groups to continue sharing her joy for gardening.

 

Galvin grew up feeling that joy. “My dad gardened and let us choose plants for under our bedroom windows. I remember walking through Roger’s Gardens as a kid choosing pink Queen Elizabeth roses and purple and yellow-faced Johnny-Jump-Ups,” she explains. “My mom always read us great books and the ones with fairies, gardens, and hedgehogs took my imagination.” During summers, Galvin would spend time on her grandparents’ farm in Washington, “running through mint into the woods and eating raspberries off the cane.” It’s this passion that drives Galvin’s desire to teach and inspire students of all generations – but teaching children is a particular passion of hers. “I love seeing kids spark up when they connect to plants, the beasts in their gardens, books, ideas, and more,” she says. Galvin also feels that it comes naturally to children—it just needs to be tapped into. “Every kid who grows up in Orange County is a naturalist by default—picking up shells on the beach and watching hummingbirds.”

 

Galvin took a circuitous yet compelling route to arrive where she is now professionally. She studied art history at the University of Michigan, but gardening was always in her soul. “I fell for the patterns and symbolism of Islamic gardens like those at the Alhambra in Spain and the kitchen garden behind the Daggett Farmhouse in Greenfield Village,” she says. She received her teaching credentials at St. Mary’s College in the Bay Area and then taught second grade there. “There was a lot of rain, and sadly we were mostly indoors,” she explains. Along with her husband, the couple decided to make a move to the UK, and there she enrolled in The English Gardening School in London for Garden Design and then completed a horticultural apprenticeship for the National Trust for Scotland. “This was old-school, organic, practical gardening at Threave and Kellie Castle. I studied floristry and botanical illustration, too,” she says.

 

Returning to the States with such expansive gardening experience under her belt, Galvin’s curriculum gelled. “Inspired by my own children’s experience, I designed seven Children’s Gardening Workshops to offer to families in schools and backyards. First, we assess your garden and then plan for fruit, flowers, vegetables, beneficial insects, crafts, cooking, writing to fairies, and more,” she explains. “Then we can continue in following the seasons; using the best quality plants, seeds, tools, materials, and books; helping nurture nature and yourselves over time.” Adding mystical elements comes naturally to Galvin, like connecting with fairies and making magical fairy gardens. “Kids get the biggest kick out of that, and it is just another way for them to strengthen their bonds with nature and the outdoors.” 

 

Gavin is passionate about teaching and a great resource for anyone who loves gardening. Whether you are an experienced gardener looking for new techniques, or a novice that needs to learn the basics, her workshops and individual sessions are bespoke to fit any need. Her 2021 goals include creating and leading toddler storytimes at the Sherman Library and Gardens. “I love sharing great books and connecting them to gardening, especially for the littlest people,” she explains. She’s also set her sights on college instructor credentialing programs where she would like to teach the teachers about gardening. “I’d love to do one class a year wherever I can,” says Galvin. “To get to the instructors while they’re enthusiastic and not yet overwhelmed by classroom responsibilities, and help normalize gardening, bringing nature study into class plans,” she says. Her plan to help teachers – which can be tailored to any school, camp, or group from nursery age on up – is to give actual plants to grow, suggest books for a curriculum, discuss Apps, crafts to make, and offer herself as a resource.

 

With clearly more energy than most of us, Galvin, who you’ll remember drew botanicals, has picked up a new skill during the pandemic. On her iPad, she sketches digital portraits for friends and family. “I love color and line and have been missing people,” she says. “During the worst of it and all of us staying apart, I began drawing friends’ and family’s faces to text to them for birthdays, graduations, in memoriam, and it surprises them, feels thoughtful, and looks pretty good.” In typical Galvin fashion – she has a lofty goal, “I’d love to iPad sketch the faces of everybody in the world!” Check out @LucieGalvinArt and send photos/commissions her way. The happy faces she captures with personalized colors—some with masks, some without—are a terrific snapshot of how we all need to feel seen and connected, one way or another.

LUCIE'S FAVORITE APPS

  • THE LENS in the Google App: for identifying plants, birds, etc. on walks.

  • PAPRIKA3 RECIPE Sharing one login with family members so all can access your online cookbook and maintain your grocery list on the go.

  • BRITISH RADIOS  BBC Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time live Fridays 7 AM PST and Radio Scotland’s weather reports.

  • GOOGLE MAPS Check the satellite view before walking in a new place to find huge trees and paths of interest.

  • BRUSHES BY ENVOZA: Easily layered sketching anywhere (even in the dark)!

  • WUNDERGROUND, TIDES, and AIRVISUAL apps

  • POPOUT! The Tale of Peter Rabbit

LUCIE'S MUST-HAVE GARDENING TOOLS

  • Haws 1 Pint Watering Can

  • Fiskars Take-Apart Shears - can use separated to slice weeds from between pavers.

  • Gardener’s Best Universal Grow Bags - easy to fill and store away in any spot.

  • Paper Green Waste Recycling Bags - like at Target. Huge paper bags for leaves, TJ’s cut flowers, lettuce ends, etc.

  • Nutscene’s Heritage Jute Twine Spools - perfect for small hands and colorful.

  • Moleskine Journals - to tape spent seed packets into and jot history of gardening done.

  • Swivel Straight Christmas Tree Stand - you’ll understand when you’ve tried it.

LUCIE'S FAVORITE CHILDREN'S GARDENING BOOKS

  • MISS JASTER’S GARDEN, by N.M. Bodecker

  • ZEEE, by Elizabeth Enright

  • DEAR FAIRIES, by Sandy Nightingale

  • WHOSE GARDEN IS IT? by Mary Ann Hoberman

  • MISS RUMPHIUS, by Barbara Cooney

  • NIGHT TREE, by Eve Bunting or Red & Lulu, by Matt Tavares.

  • MANDY, by Julie (Andrews) Edwards (Illustrated by Newport native Johanna Westerman)

  • MUD PIES AND OTHER RECIPES, by Marjorie Winslow. For every grandparent to give visiting grandchild/ren- and then set them loose on the patio.

LUCIE’S FAVORITE LOCAL GARDEN DAYS OUT

The Wedge, the boardwalk around Balboa Island, The Sherman Library and Gardens, Crystal Cove State Park, and the bluff-top walk of Heisler Park (Newport & Laguna Beaches, California) Descanso, The Arlington Gardens, The Old Mill, The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market, and The Huntington Gardens.