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Gardening with Kids

Did your parent (or grandparent) show you how to plant your first bulb? Pick a fresh bouquet of flowers? Or have an earthworm slither through your fingers for the first time? Gardening is a wonderful bonding experience between generations.

When you think the time is right to begin teaching the joy of gardening, here are a few ideas to consider.

  • Your little ones will enjoy having their own tools. Not plastic toys, but real trowels, hoes and such downsized to fit smaller hands.
  • Try to set aside an area just for your young gardeners. It will help them "connect" with what they plant.
  • Let your gardeners-in-training experience as much as they want. Show them what to do, but let them do it. (You will probably want to prepare the site beforehand so they can easily dig holes for planting.)
  • If you can, let your young gardeners choose some of the plants. Limit the choices by saying "Which color of..." or "Do you want this one or that one?"
  • Expect muddy, happy kids. You too if you've given a child a garden hose and stand too close!
  • You may want to have a jar handy to collect any bugs or worms to study. Keeping a journal together can be fun too.

It’s hard to beat annuals for a first gardening experience. They’ll yield lots of flowers to enjoy and are in good supply at local nurseries and garden centers. If you want to try some perennials, here are a few to consider:

Stachys, Lamb's Ear: Stachys is grown for its wonderful soft velvety foliage, which the leaf shape and texture resembles a lamb's ear. Kids love to rub the leaves between their fingers.

Platycodon, Balloon Flower: Spikes of large "balloons" inflate and then burst open to bell shaped flowers.

Physostegia, Obedient Plant: When Physostegia flower spikes are in full bloom, you can bend the stems like a pipecleaner and they will retain its new shape.