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  • Gillian Cassells

Birthday Party Loot Bags That Bloom!

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

By Gillian Chassels

I love native plants. I spend a lot of time reading about them, tending to them in my garden, or talking about them to friends and neighbours. When I was planning my son’s 6th birthday party last year, I knew I wanted to find a way to include my favourite topic at the birthday party. If children are the earth stewards of tomorrow, why not get them started with developing their gardening skills early!

I decided to eschew the usual party loot bag items of candy and plastic toys and instead, I gave each of my son’s friends the gift of native plants, and hopefully an avenue to learn more about nature and the positive impact that each of us can make.

I ordered five different native plants seeds from Northern Wildflowers that I thought would be easy to grow: Black-Eyed Susans, Anise Hyssop, Blue Lobelia, Wild Lupine and Wild Bergamot. I packaged them up in cute little envelopes and included a mini greenhouse growing kit. I also created a fun pamphlet on how to grow each plant and what pollinators each plant feeds. I decided to throw in some bean seeds as well as they’re super fast and easy to grow for young children that want to see results quickly, and I also love vegetable gardening.

Left: Photo by Gillian Chassells.

My journey into learning about the benefits of native plants began when I heard about Blooming Boulevards in 2021 and I signed up for a garden. Jeanne and her husband kindly came to my yard and helped me plan and plant my new native garden. I became aware of the plant choices around my home and how they impact the environment.

If children are the earth stewards of tomorrow, why not get them started with developing their gardening skills early!

Two years later, I’ve taken several gardening courses, I’m a volunteer plant

propagator with Blooming Boulevards, and I’ve surrounded my home with native plants that are often buzzing with activity that I love to observe with my kids and anyone visiting my house. Note: if you visit me during any native plant bloom times, I’m going to show them to you!

Blooming Boulevards' Seed Team: Gillian, Saundra, and Linda working diligently to get the native seeds we gathered last fall packed away into labeled envelopes. Photo: Jeanne McRight.

It is my hope that everyone, especially our children, can learn about our native gardens and marvel at all the life they support and how they work as a critical piece in our ecosystem. So let your kids, grandkids and neighbourhood kids help plant, trim or simply view up close our beautiful plants, so they too will know the rich and plentiful benefits of having native plants and will plant and tend to them for years to come.


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