Most of us share our gardens with our children. Some of the best moments of family life are enjoyed there. It shouldn't be a case of "get that ball off my flowers" but instead "Dad, my seeds have grown up bigger than yours, can I plant them out now?" Treehouse is a column about children and gardens, sometimes it will be written by grown ups, and sometimes by children. In this first edition, Greenfingers Dreamteamer Stephen Anderton - who shares his garden with Lydia (8), Rosamund (14) and Eleanor (16) - gives a few of his ideas to get your kids interested.
So, how can you interest children in gardening? How do you interest them in something, which despite your best efforts, never works out the way you planned it for more than a couple of weeks, or in something which will sometimes even die on you? This is not the stuff of childhood security, is it? Failure never stimulated anyone's interest, and nor did being dragged around stately gardens on hot afternoons!
The answer is to give children some gardening to do which brings results. Fast. Give them something to grow which can be eaten fresh off the plant, like tomatoes.
Start from seed if you must, but buying a plant is a more certain way of achieving results. Introduce a bit of friendly competition -give them each their own courgette plant for example, and let brothers vie with sisters to grow the biggest and best-fed Zeppelin in the vegetable patch. Or try starting them with something which grows so fast you can almost watch it move!
But the plants are the soft soap, the bribe. More important is to assume from the start that children will be interested in gardening, and to regard that as normal. After all, what child doesn't enjoy getting their hands dirty? Include them in your planning. Remember, it's their home as much as it is yours.
Play the 'What if...' game when you think about making changes to the shape of a lawn or the route of a path. The designer Tommy Church once planned a whole garden for a client around a circular ride way for their daughter to cycle along.
Let garden design be fun, just as much as growing tomatoes, and let it be a part of ordinary family life. That way you will never find yourself wondering how to interest them in gardening. With luck they will start bringing ideas to you.
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