Even though the Mother’s Day holiday has passed I am still not done “spotting” amazing women who are also moms. Today, I am recognizing a garden loving mom in my life. I had originally planned to feature her prior to Mother’s Day, but as always “better late, than never”.

Green Thumb Mom

I would like to introduce you to someone who is a true Green Thumb Mom and who has used her passion of gardening to create a very special outdoor space for children at the Long Island Children’s Museum. Her name is Maggie Gray and I visited her in “Our Backyard” last fall when they were just getting ready to close shop for the winter. The place is amazing. Each space has a unique quality that allows children to learn something while they are having fun. I’ll let Maggie tell you in her own words a little bit about the museum and how gardening has affected her as a mom.

ME: How long did it take to create this fabulous outdoor space – playground, classroom, sanctuary?
MAGGIE: This project started in 2004. I was working at the Long Island Children’s Museum as an exhibit technician, fixing things the visitors broke. At the same time I was attending classes necessary to become a Master Gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension. I saw a need to provide an outdoor space. After receiving support from my directors and with a team of dedicated staff, this project has grown bigger than I ever expected and I foresee it to grow.

ME: What were your goals?
MAGGIE: My goals were to give the museum visitors an opportunity to either begin to or continue to, develop a ‘Sense of Wonder’ through the exploration of the great outdoors. If we hope for the current generations to protect the environment, they must first develop a relationship with it. People will not protect what they do not love. My hope is that ‘Our Backyard’ will help nurture the development of our current and future environmental stewards.

ME: What are you most proud of?
MAGGIE: I think I am most proud of the example that I have set for my children to pursue a worthy cause and that if you work through the obstacles in creative ways, goals can be met and exceeded.

ME: Do your children share your love of gardening?
MAGGIE: My 20 year old son texted me from Haines Point in Washington, D.C. the other day, to tell me about the Cherry Blossom Trees that were raining pink. My 17 year old daughter is graduating from high school this spring and plans on pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering, and my 13 year old daughter still loves to eat the first peas right from their pod seconds off the vine. So I guess my answer is yes, my children do share my love of gardening.

ME: What can children learn from gardening?
MAGGIE: From gardening children (and adults) can learn patience, disappointment, success, failure, love, frustration, anticipation, and understanding of the interdependence necessary for life. Another big one is a respect for life.

Enjoy the pictures of Maggie in “Our Backyard”


Julie started her career in the floral industry over 30 years ago in a small, family-owned flower shop. From floral designer to author and lifestyle expert, her insight has been instrumental in developing the 1-800-Flowers.com brand. Representing the company’s floral lifestyle vision, Julie has shared her talent and passion in numerous television appearances and national magazine features. She is an active fundraiser and longtime friend of IGHL, a group dedicated to facilitating a more independent life for developmentally challenged adults.

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