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'Sesame Street Live' nurtures a new generation of gardeners

"Elmo's Green Thumb" plays at the Theater at Madison Square Garden from Feb. 17 through Feb. 21. Photo Credit: TM/Sesame Workshop

Nothing irks me more than to hear that gardening is a  pastime solely for little old ladies, immigrant men and hippies. To be sure, we do count plenty of those among us, and we're glad to have them, but nobody likes to be labeled or prejudged. I might have been a hippie in a former life, and I'll be a little old lady one day, but for now, I revel in my encounters with nonstereotypical gardeners, like the teenage boy who grows vegetables in his backyard, the young mother who makes time to plant bulbs each year -- sleeping baby securely fastened in a stroller nearby -- or a sports editor colleague who lights up when he tells me about his daylily hybridizing experiments.

The best way to ensure that people catch "the bug" is, like for anything else, catch them while they're young. There's nothing more rewarding than nurturing little green thumbs as they experience the miracle of watching a seed sprout for the very first time. That's why I'm especially happy that "Sesame Street Live"  will have a weeklong run of "Elmo's Green Thumb" from Feb. 17-21 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The show will teach children the importance of the ecosystem and how to take care of the planet, incorporating an important message into the entertainment, as the Sesame Street people do so well.

Here's the story line: Elmo has raised his sunflower, Sunny, from a seed, but his plant has outgrown its pot, so Elmo and his friends decide to transplant it into Big Bird's garden. Somewhere along the way, they encounter a fairy who casts a spell to make Sunny grow. The spell backfires and instead of Sunny growing bigger, Elmo and company shrink. Stay with me -- there's a silver lining coming. From their smaller perspectives, the gang is able to learn all about patience, overcoming fear and appreciating each creature's role in the ecosystem, from ladybugs and butterflies to grouchy beetles that scavenge the garden floor. I'm hoping that kids will come home aspiring to plant their own Sunny -- and maybe grow up to be gardeners.

Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com for $15, $25, $40 and $60. 

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