Sowing the seeds of future passions…

“The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.” – Gertrude Jekyll

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandfather.  He was a professional gardener and would quite often take me to his place of work, which I adored. I would help him pull out weeds and plant seedlings, whilst listening to him explain what we were doing, why we were doing it and how important it was to regularly put your hands into the soil.  He was a wise man.

His own garden was set on around an acre in a low mountain range east of Melbourne, Australia.  We would regularly disappear into its cool, quiet depths as there was always something to be done and it was so pleasurable.  There was a small creek shrouded with tree ferns at one end and an enormous Holly tree, clad with ivy at the other.  I became adept at climbing to the very top of that tree, taking care to avoid its sharp leaves.  It was a perfect hidey-hole and a place to daydream and reflect.

When I was about 8, he presented me with my very own gardening kit including a very ‘grown up’ pair of secateurs.  My passion for gardening was set.  Now with two young children of my own, I often reflect on the time I spent with my grandfather and how he would have enjoyed sharing his love of gardening and nature with them. But of course, his passion, nestled deeply within me, is being passed to them by default.

It is relatively simple to get kids excited about being in the garden.  Here are a few things you can do.

  • Get ‘down and dirty’ yourself. Kids respond far more enthusiastically if you join in.  Lead by example.
  • Make the garden a place of deep magic. By mixing the magical with the practical, you are far more likely to ignite interest.
  • Give them their own tools.  Forget about the dinky plastic ones that bend or break the minute you tend the soil.  Let your children handle proper equipment.  Their responsible use will amaze you.
  • Start a vegetable patch.  It doesn’t matter whether you have a vast back garden or no space at all.  A few pots or some recycled toys (such as an old Tonka Truck) are all that’s needed to grow herbs, edible flowers and simple vegtables and fruits such as beans, lettuce and tomatoes.  Remember to start simply and choose fast growing varieties to avoid disppointment.  Rocket (Arugula) is a perfect choice.  Aptly named it will shoot from seed or seedling so fast, you should be able to harvest your first leaf within 2-4 weeks.
  • Join a kid’s gardening club. There are some fantastic ones on the web. Many send regular magazines and funky seed packets to their members.
  • Visit a plant centre or nursery. They are a fascinating place for children. Let them choose their own plants.  My kids particularly enjoy the “stinky” section containing manure and fertilizers – go figure!
  • Visit your local Botanic Garden. With open spaces and so many interesting plants and interactive displays, botanic gardens and parks are the perfect place to run around, fly a kite, have a pony ride, enjoy a picnic, chase birds, lie under a tree and get close up and personal with some truly awesome plants.
  • Intersperse your children’s TV viewing habits with some gardening or nature programmes. My children LOVE watching garden renovation shows.
  • Encourage your children to find a place in the garden to create their own special, secret, magical hidey-hole.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I grew up on a farm in the uk and my dad gave a patch of land on the edge of a funny shaped field to the father of a family friend to use for gardening. Ernie was quite elderly so enlisted us to help him weed and dig. His neat rows always made me think of Mr MacGregors garden.

    I like the idea of joing the kids up to a gardening club. My three year old would LOVE getting the post and knowing its addressed to her.The new site looks great!

    • Caro&Co says

      Charley, I LOVE that! Do you still have connections to the countryside? And yes, gardening clubs are fantastic for little kids. Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely compliment. x

      • says

        Caro,
        Despite living in Sydney, I still feel very much connected to the countryside. My mum still lives in the Cornish countryside, as do most of my siblings, one of whom grows acres and acres of daffodils for a living. Dad’s in Bay of Island, New Zealand. The sea and sailing is actually what brought me to the big smoke. But my husband grew up on the edge of The Royal National Park, at the Southern fringe of Sydney. We spend a lot of time there and plan to move our family there in the next year or two. When we get the chance we also visit our cousins in Orange. In Australia I think we can be as connected to the country as we choose to be. We’re lucky that even in the cities we are never far from the natural environment, be it the coast or the bush, if we can just make the effort. Of course, being a country girl at heart I am always dreaming of moving to the country…preferably country near the coast!

  2. says

    Funnily enough, I was thinking about sowing something this morning!! In my post box, amongst the other junk, was ‘Autumn Collection’ from Honeysuckle Garden. My kids are used to seeing promos from Bing Lee or Coles etc put staight into the recycling bin, but I’ve hung on to this glossy ad mag with a pic of a glamorous, healthy, grey-haired mid-fifties couple on the front to illustrate that there’s more to advertising than white goods!!! Lauren got a magic dinosaur egg for her birthday and really enjoyed watching it grow! I think a trip to Honeysuckle Garden in Mosman with our new catalogue in hand will be an awesome trip to find some more ‘magic eggs’ in the form of bulbs or seeds as ‘magic sprinkles’. Thanks for the lovely post – my grandfather was also an avid gardener!!

  3. Eleanor Jodway says

    What a Wonderful pasttime to pass on to Your Children. I’m sure Your Grandfather is smiling down on You…with His memories of You in the garden, with him; close to his heart! :)) x

  4. says

    A Lovely post as always caro. I had very similar experiences with my Grandfather too. And got my early Love of nature and Garden from him. I Adore Your approach on Life! Thanks for sharing…as always! :))))

  5. says

    This is just an absolutely incredible article. The life you are offering is so rich! Just like a beautiful organic garden, itself.

    I am so proud of the you for sharing this. It is more essential than many people yet realize.

    The writing is “fertile” and captivating. It just feels very clean and life-giving. We need this in the world sooooo badly right now. If every child could grow up gardening I truly think it would change lives. Just imagine if they taught gardening in junior high and high school, made it mandatory. Wow!!

    I have a friend who waited years before gardening. One was not doing well and suffering depression. I said, “You need to grow a garden, even a little one.” For several years, my friend balked at it and asked me how simple gardening could make them feel better? I said” Just DO it, and you will find out.” Well, for several years they didn’t, then one day due to financial shortage, this friend thought they could save money on their food bill by gardening. So they did. And low and behold, they came to me and said, “You were right, when I am in the garden, I do not feel depressed at all.” I was so so pleased for them.

    Also, I LOVED your list here for kids. It is fabulous!! Good for you. Good work here.
    Bless you for caring and acting on it.
    Robin

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