Gardening and plants have long been a passion of mine. I’ve spoken before about how my obsession began and my desire to instill a love of the natural world in my children. I spend much time explaining to them that plants are integral to our emotional, spiritual and physical health.
And whilst I’m not a teacher, I inherently know children benefit tremendously by witnessing firsthand the amazing lessons Mother Nature can offer. Introducing your children to concepts such as colours, shapes, numbers & letters, time, the web (and cycle) of life within the context of nature and plants provides hours of creative and educational fun. The senses are also fired up. And you’ll be surprised at just how much your own view of plants can be enhanced when experienced through a child’s eyes…
Recently, my children and I were lucky enough to visit some beautiful gardens in Europe and played many games based on the senses and simple concepts such as shapes and numbers. In Italy, where the sun shone brightly, everything seemed to be bursting from the ground. We explored the senses of taste and smell each day, having discovered the largest sage bush I’ve ever seen. Parsley, wild thyme, sweet marjoram, rosemary and garlic plants were also on offer.
In Gloucestershire, we looked for every colour on the warm spectrum we could find. Some of the results were spectacular.
In Cornwall, my daughter conceptualised a new colour for this bloom, calling it “blurple”. We decided indigo was also a good descriptor and that the shape of the petals were like masses of mini hearts.
We listened to the wind and the sound of our laughter here. And we enjoyed space to run wildly about.
A touch of rain didn’t stop us.
We wondered at the majesty of trees.
In France the sound of the bees’ lazy droning made us very happy.
Whilst we have been tremendously lucky to have had these experiences, magical plants can be found in the simplest of places. The smell of Daphne at your front door, the fat fluffy buds of magnolias about to burst forth, tiny clover leaves in a nature strip, trees and grasses arching this way and that on a windy day, herbs growing in a pot on your grandmother’s window sill, bindii preparing to set its spiky teeth in anticipation of bare feet in summer. Plants of all shapes, sizes, scents and uses thrive in disused lots, on building sites, in the crack of a wall. They are literally everywhere – we just need to encourage our children to look up, down, all around and relish the experience.
As a child, did you have a favourite plant? I’d love to hear about it…