School Garden Theme Ideas
Bring the Love of Gardening to Children
31 Theme Garden Ideas to get kids excited about gardening.
Having a garden theme is a creative way to make gardening a little more fun and exciting. The following themed gardens include fruits, vegetables, and other tasty edibles.
Here is a picture of my son holding a sunflower seed for our sunflower hut. As you can tell, he takes this project very seriously.
How do you make gardening exciting for your kids? I hear they can also be bribed with strawberries!
What are some garden theme ideas for kids?
Include a plant that starts with each letter of the alphabet
A is for Alyssum and Z is for Zinnia. There are 26 planting blocks in the ABC Kinder-Garten, and each one features a plant (usually an annual, but there are also some perennials) that has a name starting with the letters of the alphabet.
The plants grown here provide the food for cows, chickens, beef cattle, buffalo, pigs, and sheep.
Reed Canary Grass
Alternative: Grow a garden with plants whose names relate to a farm.
Colt's Foot, Bee Balm, Cornflowers, Cowslip, Dogwood, Strawberry, Gooseberry, Chickweed, Goose Grass, Hog Apple, Pigsty Daisy, Oxeye Daisy, Milk Maids, Hens-and-chicks, Cowbells, Horseradish, Goats Beard.
Decorate with a scarecrow, wheelbarrow or old water pump.
Start by deciding what types of butterflies you want to attract and then looking at what types of plants they are attracted to.
Your Butterfly Garden needs to include two main types of plants: caterpillar host and nectar source.
A complete list of butterfly host plants and nectar sources are listed below:
- Butterfly Gardening - Plants to Attract Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and Wildlife
Here are some tips to make your garden especially butterfly friendly.
Cereal Bowl Garden
Grow plants found in your morning cereal bowl.
corn (corn flakes)
Crayola Color Garden
Grow plants with names of your favorite Crayola crayons.
Pumpkin 'Autumn Gold'
Strawberry 'Pink Panda'
Variation: See Rainbow Garden below.
Dig - Dig - Dig
Incorporate prehistoric plants in your landscape to bring the world of the dinosaurs to your own backyard or school garden.
Plant: bald cypress tree, ferns, barberry shrubs, horsetail, spreading yews, gold cypress.
Add: To encourage inquiry and exploration, add a dig site using sand as well as "fossils" imprinted in concrete so students can practice being paleontologists. Add replica dinosaur bones, fern fronds, and shell remnants inserted into cement so the kids can make clay impressions.
Enrichment Activities: Leaf rubbings from the landscape plants.
A magical place where fairies, gnomes, and trolls live.
Zinnia - Thumbelina
Zinnia - Peter Pan
Grass - Bunny Tails
Grass - Fairies Joke
Bells of Ireland (fairy hats)
Rose - The Fairy (careful, very thorny)
Thyme (fairy homes)
a.k.a. Jack and the Beanstalk Garden
Giant vegetables include:
Big Moon - pumpkin
Oxheart - tomato
Scarlet Imperial Long - carrot
Giant Perfection - muskmelon
Grey Stripe - sunflower
Scarlet runner beans
Walla Walla - onion
Lagenaria - summer squash
Zwaan Jumbo - cabbage
Armenian - cucumber
Crimson Long - radish
Harry Potter Garden
- The Harry Potter Garden
We plant these in my daughter's garden and give them all names of plants that can be found in the Harry Potter books.
- Ideas for a Harry Potter Garden
The kids were highly inquisitive about all the different plants mentioned throughout the books and I got to thinking this spring we could maybe play around with a small Harry Potter garden in the backyard.
Eight good-health vegetables based on USDA ratings.
Home State Garden
Plant plants and flowers native to your state.
Pay special attention to your state grass or flower.
This garden could also be called the wild garden and feature some of the flowers you most likely see growing wild along your state highways.
See Peter Rabbit Garden, Harry Potter Garden, Mother Goose Garden, and Pioneer Garden.
What's in a name?
Eyes of Mary (Forget-me-nots)
Mary’s Pincushion (Scabiosa)
Mary’s Rose (Peonies)
Grow a fresh supply of ingredients for your favorite mexican dishes.
jalapeno plant and/or other mild to hot chili
bell pepper plant
Plants that are best at dusk or night.
Petunias (release their scent at night)
Nicotiana (flowering tobacco)
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Daylilies: Ice Dancer, Nautical Nights, or Alaskan Midnight
Sweet autumn clematis
Mother Goose Garden
"Old fashioned" plants, such as those mentioned in Mother Goose rhymes.
Rose 'Betty Proir'
Daisy 'Miss Muffet'
Speedwell 'Sunny Border Blue'
Coralbells 'Palace Purple'
Silver Lace Vine
Silver Bells and Cockle Shells (Mary, Mary Quite Contrary)
Experience different cultures
Grow plants from around the globe.
Plants with names that mimic musical instruments
Viola (Johnny Jump Up)
Scarlet Bugler (attracts Hummingbirds)
Native American Garden
Learn about Native American culture.
Performing Plants Garden
Plants do things!
For example, Mimosa leaves collapse when touched and impatiens seed pods explode when touched.
Silver Sage (soft and fuzzy)
Sensitive Plant (leaves collapse when touched)
Globe Thistle (spiny and prickly)
Lovely Leaves (leaves come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures)
Lady's Mantle (tiny hairs make water droplets shine like jewels)
Love-in-a-Puff (makes a ball shaped puff, and the seeds inside have tiny heart marks)
Evening Primrose ('Tina James' open when the sun sets in 15 seconds!)
Obedient Plant (flowers will stay in place when moved, it's obedient)
Balloon Flower (opening buds look like a balloon)
Gas Plant (flowers release a gas at night that may be lit with a match)
Burdock (the sticking idea for "velcro")
Compass Plant (leaves line up north and south)
Portulaca (opens when the sun shines and closes when it's cloudy)
Chia (forms a gel coat used to cover "Chia" pottery pets)
Cup Plant (leaves trap water where frogs and toads rest)
Day Flower (opens for one day)
Mosquito Plant (may repel mosquitoes)
Source: 4-H Children's Garden at Michigan State University
Showcases plants that have been used to make things smell better since time began.
Evening Scented Stock
Roses (used to make potpourri)
Alternative: Scent Garden (in the S section)
Peter Rabbit's Garden
Based on the most popular book for children ever published, and the first source of garden impressions in early childhood. The plants growing here are all mentioned in the Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit books.
From The Tales of Peter Rabbit: gooseberries, parsnips, cucumber, and cabbage.
From The Tale of Benjamin Bunny: pear trees, parsley, lettuce, carnations, and antirrhinums.
From The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies: lettuce, roses, pansies, marrows, and French Marigold.
Decorate: Embelish with a little blue coat and a pair of little shoes hanging from a pole. Border with white picket fence.
Enrichment activities: Ask older students to create a garden that directly reflects an illustration from the book. Drink Chamomile tea; Peter was given a cup of chamomile tea to soothe the nerves after his narrow escape from Mrs. McGregor.
Be Inspired -- A Real Beatrix Potter Garden
Come explore a real Peter Rabbit garden designed by Richard Lucas (Chelsea RHS Gold medal winner ). Richard embarked on a nationwide hunt to ‘root out’ the appropriate unusual and traditional varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Richard explains: "I studied Beatrix Potter’s garden illustrations and text to identify different fruit, vegetables and flowers to include in my design and found out which varieties she would have known in her lifetime. It has been painstaking work - but I wanted the garden to capture the very essence of Beatrix Potter’s world from the Cos lettuces that Benjamin Bunny nibbled on to the gooseberries that Peter."
Many vegetables introduced from European countries, came over with the settlers.
These vegetables would have been grown by families like the Wilder family in the "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Pizza Garden - Pizza is the most popular choice on the school lunch menu in the United States.
Peppers (Sweet or Bell)
Grow plants and herbs in a pizze wedge- or pie-shaped garden. Add Marigold "cheese" along the border.
Throw a pizza pie party with homemade pizza sauce from your harvest.
The University of Tennessee offers a complete Pizza Garden Guide for educators and parents.
- Grow Your Own Slice of Pizza Pie
A complete guide to growing your own pizza garden. 2-sided PDF includes a slow-cooker pizza sauce recipe.
Build a rainbow garden based on the seven colors of the rainbow
Plant an arch with seven rows of flower varieties which are of equal height: red salvia, orange marigold, yellow marigold, parsley, blue ageratum, and purple petunia. Plant a pot of gold using tiny marigolds, California poppies, or "Gold Coin".
The most fun part of planting a rainbow garden is picking out the seeds to match every color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. As blue and indigo are fairly similar, you may opt to use just six colors, including one shade of blue.
If your class cannot visit a nursery, let the children flip through catalogs from nurseries, picking out flowering plants that fit with each of the colors.
Students can also pick out colorful vegetables to eat: sugar snap peas, pumpkins, and tomotoes are popular with children. How about blue potatoes or orange tomatoes? The possibilities are endless?
Plant your flowers in arches in your garden. Each arch (row) shuld have its own color. When the flowers bloom, it mimics the look of a rainbow
Alternative: Container gardening
Students plant the rainbow gardens in containers at school and then take them home to water and grow.
Grow a Salsa Garden with limited space.
One of the great thing about a Salse Garden is that you can still have a fantastic salsa garden with limited space! Most of the plants used in salsa will thrive readily in planters on you balcony, deck. Plant in the garden or in containers. You can even grow most of these plants and herbs successfully in a window box.
Sweet Banana Pepper
Large Leaf Italian Basil
Plants have attractive fragrances that can be eye-opening for kids.
This is also a great garden for a class wiith students who may have tummy issues and are unable to fully enjoy some of the other edible harvests.
Mint (many options are available): spearmint, peppermint, orange mint, pineapple, and even chocolate peppermint (with a tiny hint of chocolate smell).
Agastache: anise or licorice scent. Agastache makes a delicious tea that can remind kids of licorice candy.
Lemon-scented Herbs: lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, and lemongrass are lemon-scented plants you can smell, drink, or eat.
Basil (many options are available): cinnamon basil, lemon basil, Thai basil (anise), holy basil (clove), and lime basil.
Sage: garden sage (used in Thanksgiving dressing), pineapple sage (pineaple scent)
Grow your own healthy snack.
Sunflower Hut Garden
Your sunflower house will be unique due to your available space and the desire of your students. Basically, you will plant your seeds in a large rectangle or circle. When the sunflowers get tall, you will lean them towards each other and tie them together to create a roof-like structure. Don't forget to leave some space unplanted on the perimeter so that the kids can get in and out of the structure. Lay straw or grass in the center of the hut so that the kids will have something nice to walk on.
Encourage the morning glories to grow along the stalks and flowers to make a leafy blue roof for the house.
Sit back and watch the magic begin!
Instructions for growing sunflowers are readily available online.
- Grow a Sunflower House for Kids - Vegetable Gardener
Don't let the kids keep the magic for themselves. When the morning glories begin blooming, get into that sunflower house, lie on your back and admire the glowing blue sky that you and your kids planted.
- How to grow a sunflower house
Kids love hideaways where they can be alone or whisper secrets with friends. Imagine such get-togethers in a sunflower house, a green building with a perky personality.
- Sunflower House
A sunflower house is an easy and exciting project for you and your kids. I am currently growing my second one in the same spot. I marked off an 8'x8' square. I double dug a furrow, hoed a shallow moat around the furrow, and put in sunflowers which I
- Sunflower Houses - Gardening with Kids Forum - GardenWeb
This forum is meant for the discussion of all aspects of gardening with children. This includes everything related to education and gardening.
Tea Party Garden
Little girls that love hosting tea parties should get pleasure from a tea party centered garden.
Mint (peppermint, orange, pineapple, chocolate)
Grow the plants in old teapots or tea kettles purchased from thrift stores and flea markets. Decorate the center of the garden with a small table for friends.
Teeny Tiny Garden
Tabletop Garden Ideas
You will need petite- and dwarf-variety plants for your Teeny Tiny Garden.
Wooly thyme (Thymus Lanuginosus)
Ornamental strawberry (Rosacae)
Irish moss (Sagina suulata)
Blue Star Creeper (Isomtoma)
Baby tears (Soleirolia)
Cranesbill (Erodium reichardi) "Dark Eyes"
Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) "Platts Black"
Embellish with small rocks and critters.
What are the benefits of getting kids into the garden?
Youth Gardens are important!
According to www.kidsgardening.com, youth gardens:
- build an understanding of and respect for nature and our environment;
- motivate kids to eat and love fruits and vegetables;
- provide opportunities for hands-on learning, inquiry, observation, and
- promote physical activity and quality outdoor experiences; and
- teach kids to nurture and care for other living things while developing patience.
How do I start a garden at my child's school?
How to Grow a School Garden - pssssst... this is a wonderful volunteer activity for parents.
Growing a school garden can be as small or large of a project as you want it to be. Either way, as with any garden, you will need to developing the concept, plan the garden, organize your supplies, design the space, preparing the site, working with parents/school admnistration/teachers to start the program. Plan to teach in the garden, plant, harvest, and cook with the garden's produce.
Parents and volunteers can prpare the site. Kids and teachers are great resources for planting, watering, and mainiting the garden. Schools with many classrooms can either plant one garden per grade/class or alternate maintenance responsibilities for one school overall school garden.
- How to Grow a School Garden | PTA
A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers. By Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle
- School Garden Program Overview - Healthy Eating & Nutrition Education (CA Dept of Education)
An overview of the school garden program including its impact on children's health, nutrition, and academic achievement.
- Welcome to KidsGardening! Garden Resources, Gardening for Families, and Teacher's Garden
Kids gardening explores gardening resources for family, teachers and beginner or experienced gardeners. Start at Garden Committee (Icebreaker) Carousel Brainstorming: fun and organized way to get every committee member's input on planning questio
- 4-H Children's Garden: Overview Map
Welcome to the 4-H Children's Garden Tour! Below is the overall view of the children's garden. Because it is so big, containing 56 individual theme gardens, you must first pick an area for a zoom-in view. From there you can dive right in to one of th
Act out "Little Brown Seed"
I'm a little brown seed.
Rolled up in a tiny ball.
I'll wait for the rain and sunshine.
To make me big and tall.
Do you have a theme garden? What are your tips for success when gardening with children?