Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Children's Garden Themes
As a mother to three boys and an avid gardener, I am always looking for ways to incorporate my kids into the garden for the garden's sake, my sanity and their nature nurturing. My first take on 'our' garden was a pole bean teepee with some chives and mints. The scarlett runner beans did wonderfully, my son was pleased with his chivey, onion breath all summer. The mints, well, let's just say we created our own variety when the pineapple, spearmint and grapefruit mint took over the garden and crossed. Of course that was many moons ago.........




Try these grips and some bamboo poles for a great, sturdy teepee.
http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/7430-product.html



Check out these scarlet runner beans rambling over a teepee and fencing at:
http://www.mastfarminn.com/gardens/

Pineapple Mint


Here is a nice link to some fun varieties of mints:
http://www.theherbcottage.com/mints.html

I pot mine up with some potting soil and sink the container in the ground to keep it from taking over the garden. All varieties are rather invasive and need to be contained. I'm pretty sure one of the first herbs a new gardener plants is mint and even after being told it is invasive, just can't wait for it to invade only to have their own battle with mint story to tell several years later. A nice idea would be to pot up your mints and have the kids make signs for each variety and just set the pots around the garden or outside of the play area as the bees can become a bit of a nuisance.

ABC.........
Okay, enough mints and teepees!! There are so many creative ideas for incorporting the children into your garden and having the garden of your dreams at the same time. If you've read the previous blog an alphabet garden is a fun way to teach your children about plants that are safe, the 5 senses and of course the alphabet! Try these plants for your alphabet garden:
A
Astlibe
B
Beebalm
Balloon Flower (flowers looks like balloons just before opening)
C
Coreopsis
Chives
D
Daisy
E
Echinacea (we all know urple come flower)
F
Fennel bronze (butterflies love to lay their eggs on fennel)
G
Guara
H
Hens and chicks (great to cut open for burns)
Hyssop (the flowers make a yummy tea)
I
Iris
J
Jacob’s ladder
K
Knaughtia
L
Lamb’s ear ( I cut the flower stalks off as they attract a large number of bees)
M
Mints:
Spearmint
Candymint
Apple mint
Chocolate mint
Banana mint
Peppermint
N
Nasturtium (edible flowers)
O
Obedient plant (invasive, but neat plant. flowers can be pushed in place around stem)
Oregano
P
Parsley
Pansy
Q
Queen anns’s lace (invasive)
R
Ribbon grass
Roman shields (an everlasting whose seed pods resemble little shields)
S
Snapdragon
Sunflower
T
Thyme (so many varieties to choose from)
Trembling hearts ( a tiny perennial grass)
U
Umbrella plant (houseplant, jsut sink the pot and bring it in during the fall)
V
Vinca
W
Wormwood
X
Xeranthemum (annual, start from seed)
Y
Yucca
Z
Zebra grass
There are so many more available plants. Try making a game out of finding appropriate plants for your alphabet garden. I use a variety of plants with either latin or common names.


One of my favorite muses on the web for children's gardening is the 4h Children's Garden in Michigan http://4hgarden.msu.edu/tour/index.html
Here you can take a virtual tour through all of the themed gardens designed especially for kids!


Here are some other themes for a children's garden:

Butterfly garden
Crayon Color garden
Dinosaur garden
Fairy garden
Scented garden
Pizza garden
Peter Rabbit Garden
Sundial (Thyme) garden
The Pizza Patch
Sunflower House
Buckets, Boxes & Boots (Container Gardens)
Moon Garden (white flowers)
The Flowery Maze
A Garden of Giants
Mother Nature's Medicine Chest

Have fun exploring gardening with your child!

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