Originally posted March 19, 2014.
This is a guest post from a friend of mine across the pond who loves to garden as much as I do! My son, now 19, grew up gardening with me. His first experience gardening was planting foxglove and basil seeds with me in egg cartons in the living room! And together, we planted over 300 daffodil bulbs on our former residence in Budd Lake, New Jersey.
Enjoy gardening with your children where we finally get some spring here in the northeast US! Here are some tips from Karen!
Inspiring your children to enjoy being in the garden can give them a healthy hobby that they can continue throughout their childhood and beyond. Try capturing their interest with brightly-colored and scented flowers that grow quickly – as children aren’t always the most patient of folk. It’s a huge achievement to get kids interested in growing plants in the garden – and not just for the free labor.
Gardening teaches children all manner of lessons, from the seasons and environment, working in a team, to the natural life cycles that happen. Research by the Royal Horticultural Society shows that children who garden perform better at school, becoming more resilient and ready to learn. Another benefit is that you may find your kids become more interested in healthy eating – they are more likely to try and taste new vegetables that they have grown and harvested themselves.
Cheap and cheerful!
A key point to remember is that all children become easily discouraged so it’s important to make their first gardening experience positive, fruitful and quick! Why not try growing a wild strawberry plant, it gives off a sweet scent that your children will love hunting the garden for. Or if you want to be more practical in your growing you could always try lettuce, which can be grown all year round and it begins to sprout within just 12 days!
Awaken the senses
It’s easy to create a sensory garden for your children that is not only beautiful to look at but captures their imaginations too. Why not try planting sunflowers? Children love bright colors and eye-catching flowers which are great for getting them interested in nature. Sunflowers are bold, bright and they can grow up to 30cm in a week, so they’re great when you want to be able to appreciate the efforts of planting without waiting too long to see results!
The heady fragrances given off by flowers and leaves are wonderful to enjoy in our gardens. The smells often have a purpose too, such as attracting insects to the flowers or deterring pests from eating leaves. It’s great to be able to teach children about reproduction of plants using your own garden as an example.
Some plants’ smells purposes are less well known, but no less interesting to notice! The well known curry plant produces a spicy aroma on a warm, sunny day.
There are so many delicious plants that it’s difficult to choose just a few. As most gardeners know, fruits, vegetables and herbs are not only tasty to us – animals and insects love them too! Many plants have great tasting fruits to attract animals to eat them and disperse their seeds for them. For us, spearmint tastes great with peas or new potatoes and grows very quickly so you can use it all year round!
Leaves vary between plants; from rough to smooth, furry to spiky. Get your children to touch these plants and describe what they feel like. You can also explain to them that every texture has a purpose. Lamb’s ears – wondering what that is? Well it’s easy to identify as when you touch the silky foliage, it’s soft like velvet.
Once you’ve planted your seeds and your garden is starting to grow why not sit in your garden and encourage your children to listen to all the sounds of nature around you: the bees buzzing, the birds singing and the sound of the wind rustling the plants. No sound? Why not plant some greater quaking grass that rustle in the wind.
There are over 50 different varieties of butterflies in Britain but unfortunately they are becoming rarer and rarer to see. You don’t need a large garden to attract butterflies but with the right planning, these plants will attract them, creating your very own butterfly paradise. Make sure you provide the butterflies with warmth, shelter and nectar – the butterflies will start to use your garden to feed and maybe even breed! Sweet rocket is a deliciously scented plant that produces white and purple flowers from May to August, which draws in the butterflies from wide and far.
If you don’t have a garden don’t worry – you don’t need to have a garden to develop your kids’ green fingers! All you need is a window ledge and a plastic pot! Help your child create a haven for butterflies, bees and bugs by filling a window box or small crate with wildlife-friendly plants, such as snapdragon, chives and lavender. You will have wildlife flocking to your window ledge everyday for a real life nature lesson, which is something you can’t teach from a book. Embrace your inner landscape designer and get creative with your children! If you’re stuck for ideas or inspiration check out the royal horticultural society: http://www.rhs.org.uk/
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Photo credit: smartphotostock.com
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Karen is a lover of all things countryside and health conscious, so the idea of growing her own vegetables is something she can’t get away from. She has enjoyed growing her own in the past, involving her children and grandchildren when possible. When she’s not tinkering in the garden she’s busy running her two businesses. All Seasons Landscape Specialists are Karen’s reliable source of advice whenever she’s needed tips in the past.