5 Ways to Spark Children’s Imagination in the Garden
By O’Bryan, Horticulturalist
Gardening is an art that is passed down through the ages. But many times, children just don’t have the same interests as we adults do, making it difficult to pass the knowledge on. Thinking outside the garden box, so to speak, can brighten their little minds and spark imagination and interest.
One easy way to accomplish this is through planting by the 5 senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Below are planting suggestions for engaging your child in the garden.
This is an easy one. Bright colors and funky patterns dazzle the eyes of everyone. But for a child, it is fun to plant a garden based on their favorite color. Involve them in all aspects of the planning process including choosing the plants, arranging them and engaging them in the planting process. We did this for my daughter when she was little and her favorite color was blue at the time. We chose Ajuga, Tradescantia and a blue Clematis to spark her interest.
Bringing sound into the garden is a bit more difficult. To grow plants for the sense of sound, you may have to think even more out of the “garden box” and come up with ways plants sound when the wind catches them or the rain splashes on them. Plant grasses that will swoosh in the breeze. There are plenty of pollinator plants that attract buzzy friends. These include Shasta Daisy, Echinacea and Caryopteris, which sounds as though it might lift off in flight when it is in bloom due to the bumblebees that love it.
This, by far should be the easiest way to get the kiddos in the garden. A sweet-smelling rose will attract not only the finest pollinators but will capture children’s attention. Some of the best smelling plants are indeed roses, but there are others that can stimulate the sense of smell. Look for hardy Gardenia, Hyacinth and Lilacs.
Sweet smells aren’t the only scent plants can produce. To get a well-rounded sniff, see if your local agriculture college has a corpse plant. They only bloom once every 7-10 years, but I wouldn’t recommend one for your home. It smells of rotten flesh when it blooms as to attract flies for pollination.
Herbs are a great way to involve children in the garden. By showing them that plants have interesting tastes, it can spark a love of food beyond chicken nuggets. There are many herbs that can be planted in your children’s garden. Lavender and rosemary will be evergreen staples while you can plant mint, oregano and thyme for a tasty buffet for kids to explore. Don’t forget the basil, which goes great with some tomato plants.
This is a fun one. Plants that have a fuzzy texture such as lamb’s ears and Dusty Miller are huge hits. Sedum and ferns have interesting textures as well. Children will enjoy rolling their hands through moss and lush grasses. Try planting some of these and watch your children’s eyes light up.
When you plant your children’s garden, remember to get a soil test to ensure your new plants have a good foundation to grow in. We offer a well-rounded soil test here. You will also want to add some compost and plant food to all holes when planting perennials.
Getting children involved in the garden is not only easy, but fun as well. Young and old alike will love planting by the 5 senses and experiencing the garden in a new and exciting way.