Planting Your Own Children's Garden
Gardens for Kids
Planting a children's garden in your own yard can be both exciting and educational. After a recent visit to the children's garden at Michigan State University, I got to thinking about how I could recreate that for my own children.
Five Senses Garden
Children, as many of us know, are like sponges. They seem to take in everything around them. One of the best ways to create a children's garden is to think about the five senses. Once you have included each of the five senses, you will have touched upon each of the ways that children learn. They will be in awe of the amazing sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes that they will find as they step out into their own garden.
Sense of Sight in Gardens
The visual appeal is what first attracts most people to a garden. For children the focus may be just a little different. Children are often attracted to the use of color. If you have young children, you could help them to learn their colors by creating a sort of crayon box area of the garden. Why not plant flowers that are the colors of an eight box of crayons?
Of course the beauty of flowers will make children want to engage in gardening, but how about adding some statues. You could include a statue of children, a favorite animal, or even a little bench to sit on while enjoying the amazing colors, sounds, and smells that surround you.
Listening to the Sounds in Gardens
Adding sound to your garden can be very exciting. I love the sound of chimes in the summer blowing in the gentle breeze. It really makes me feel very relaxed. Children always seem to be in awe of the sound of the music that they make. There are many kinds to choose from and the beauty of the chimes are just as intriguing as the sounds that they make.
If wind chimes are not your thing, how about some ornamental grass? The gentle sound of the wind blowing across some tall grass always makes my head turn. It is a very calming sound and is also gorgeous to look at as well.
Tasting the Bounty of Your Garden
Of course the tasting part of a garden is always the most fun. There are so many plants to choose from when you are deciding to plant fruits or vegetables. Strawberries are one that come to mind for me almost immediately. They are bright and inviting and very easy to grow. It would even fit in with one of those colors of that crayon box! Some other great choices would be tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, or even peppers. None of these plants need a great deal of growing space and you could even use the carrots or lettuce as a border in your garden.
Touching the Variety of Textures in Gardens
The sense of touch is one of the top ways that young children learn. Babies start out watching and listening to the world around them. As their motor skills develop, they begin to touch the objects that are closest to them.
Plants are not designed just to be looked at and smelled, they are also meant to be touched. The texture of plants varies greatly. Some are very rough and prickly while others are quite soft. Lamb's ear is one example of those soft touching plants. They are abundant in grassy and wooded areas in the Midwest and we often find them on our nature walks. There is actually a little tale that claims that if you want to find fairies, look for lamb's ear for this is where they rest their heads at night.
There are quite a few other plants that lend themselves to be touched. Another one that kids love is called the Mimosa Pudica. It is more commonly called the 'Tickle Me Plant' or the 'Sensitive Plant.' The excitement of this plant is that as you touch it, the leaves fold up. It is really neat to watch and kids are always amazed by it.
Smelling the Beautiful Aromas in Gardens
The aroma of something will capture your attention even before you can see it. There are many plants that are very aromatic and would be great additions to a children's garden. Lavender is one that is perfect for this. You can even pick some of the flowers and dry them out for use in your home.
Herbs are always a great way to add a little scent to your garden. Of course you could add herbs like Rosemary or Basil, but how about adding something fun like Chocolate Mint or Rocket Candytuft with it's sweet smelling flowers. Creativity is the key!
Gardening in Small Spaces
If you have a limited area, think about how the plants you choose can fit within more than one of the five senses. Many of these plants can serve as a multipurpose plant for your five senses garden. For example, if you plant purple lavender, it can touch both the sight and smell senses. Many of these plants will even have the added benefit of attracting beautiful creatures of nature such as hummingbirds or butterflies.
Even if you do not have a large area in your yard to plant a children's garden, consider using pots. Almost all of the plants mentioned can be grown in containers of some sort. Anything that is living and children can watch grow will delight them to their core. Kids love to see the fruits of their labor, plant a garden and enjoy the view!
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