An Indiana Wildflower Garden

9th Grade Biology, Hillsboro, Indiana

Why should my school artifacts only come from graduate school? I have put a lot of hard work into projects my whole life. In fact my most precious school artifact of all time was done my freshman year. Of high school. How could I resist the opportunity to show some of it here? :)

We Wallace kids had just been shipped to a new school - our rival, actually, Hillsboro, seven miles up the road, in preparation for a county-wide consolidation the coming year. That year Hillsboro hired a new biology teacher, a hard-nosed woman with bouncy brown hair and bright blue eyes. As winter headed toward spring, Mrs. Schenk assigned us a project to find, dry, mount, and scientifically classify 50 wildflowers. We were to submit them in a scrapbook at the end of the year. Always the bookworm and couch potato, I was forced outdoors into my grandfather's woods, forty acres in southern Fountain County, Indiana. From early spring to early summer, I tramped through the undergrowth with my little paperback wildflower book in hand, stumbling over hills and hollows, nearly picking up snakes, all the while trying to identify fifty different species of wildflowers. It seemed an impossible task. My granddad built me a drying press according to Mrs. Schenk's instructions. I'd bring home my finds, place them between old newspapers or Sears Catalogs and tighten down the press. Every other day or so, I'd change the paper. Towards the end of the semester we brought our flowers to class and worked the rest of the time poring through books of plant drawings and descriptions trying to classify them. Fortunately Mrs. Schenk helped us alot.

Not known in my short fourteen years on earth for being meticulous, neat or fussy, this time I wanted to make something really beautiful. So I assembled all of my pages into a nice scrapbook and wrote the classifications with golden ink. This was back in the days when stores were closed on Sunday and after five on weekdays. Besides, town was at least five and sometimes twenty miles away, depending on what you needed - and you didn't just go running to a store when you needed something. I was worried about running out of golden ink. But I finished my project, and that assignment more than most has affected the rest of my life. It made me aware of nature and even today shapes some of the poetry I write when I'm outside, bike-riding, walking or even driving. After almost 40 years I still have the old scrapbook with its dry, fragile contents and even though my grandparents farm is no longer in the family, opening up the old scrapbook takes me back to my grandmother's house and my granddad's woods and memories of my grandfather building me a flower press so I could complete this assignment.


Grandpa Alward's Woods in 1965

album cover
cover page
Table of contents
Table of contents
Table of contents
Dutchman's Breeches
Jack in the Pulpit
Jacob's Ladder
Yellow violet


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