Gardening in groups: It’s much more fun in a group. Having someone energetic and with a loud voice who can rally the troops (man!) is key: all together to tackle a great task. This can be to clear brambles or canes after a storm. I feel a ghost settle and the rumble subside as everyone goes to work, hauling large branches to the pile. I can see the sense of contentment taking hold in the group and there are many jokes along the way.
Also get everyone digging and hauling compost to the borders, although this isn’t as popular as it’s really hard work.
For smaller children, it is best to start with vegetables. Radishes or beans planted in small pots on a windowsill germinate quickly – so they don’t lose interest – and when the leaves start to unfurl and look like Jack’s beanstalk, it’s very exciting. My youngest runs straight to her beans to water them after school – one is growing on my kitchen windowsill and climbing up the lamp. Unfortunately our timing has been postponed as it is still a bit early to plant out.
My youngest loves collecting broken glass and old crockery and hoarding it in her “shop”. There she keeps glass jars and collects caterpillars or snails, which she uses with nasturtium leaves (before releasing them). It’s all part of looking closely at nature.
Her “shop” is next to my potting table and she interferes with me, sewing seeds and dividing things into different pots and writing labels on lollipop sticks. If you garden yourself, children come with you.
A godmother gave my youngest A little guide to trees at the age of eight and the following year A little guide to wildflowers (both by Charlotte Voake, Eden Project) with wonderful illustrations. This sparked a real interest in identifying flowers and trees. There’s a section on the back where you check off what you’ve seen. On walks she shows old man’s beard in the hedge and knows oaks, mountain ash, birch and many more.
I didn’t succeed with the older three, but number four wants to be a gardener!
Catherine FitzGerald is a landscape architect and gardener
Inspire your children to let off steam in the garden
1. Experience a wild adventure
Children love treasure hunts and the idea of going on a wild adventure to see what they can find in the garden will pique their interest. Can you spot a caterpillar? Can you find out what becomes of it? can you find a worm What lives under tree trunks? Identify poisonous plants and learn what not to touch. This is fun and can be a valuable lesson in connecting with the wild and respecting nature in all its forms.
2. Learn about beautiful weeds and their uses
The world of wildflowers and weeds is filled with fascinating tales of witchcraft, poison spells and medicinal uses. Kids will love hearing the stories and learning about the value of these plants, many of which are beneficial to the garden.
3. Build garden dens for animals
Kids love to build dens and creating safe havens for animals is a great way to learn about their different needs and why it’s important that we help them.
Tip: If you give names to the different animals, this can be even more personal.
– Leonie Cornelius
Don’t miss your Spring Gardening brochures, free this weekend in the Irish Independent on Saturday and the Sunday Independent, with expert advice on everything to plant for all types of gardens, how to entertain the outdoors, how to keep the kids can include and much more.
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/gardens/get-in-a-gardening-gang-and-give-children-the-gift-of-green-fingers-41455994.html Join a gardening gang and give kids a green thumb