Gardening has always been a great way to grow food, connect with nature and stay physically active, and these benefits are no different for children. Nonetheless, kids don’t have the same abilities and attention span as adults, so keep the following tips in mind if you’re gardening with young people or designing a garden for them.
Remember that kids are not adults! This is the most important takeaway from the book “Gardening with Emma, Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide” (Storey, 2019). The author, Emma Biggs, is just 13 years old. In this book, she confidently compares the features that adults value in a garden with the ways kids prefer to interact.
Whereas adults mostly want their gardens to look nice for other adults, kids want to “paint themselves with mud” and “pick unripe fruit.” Children will feel invited to engage and explore if the garden offers features that align with their perspectives. Three simple tips from Emma are: plant the right plants, do fun projects, and make spaces to play.
Kids of all ages love flowers. I could make an A-to-Z list of flowering plants, but let’s just start with the ABCs: alyssum (Lobularia maritima), borage (Borago officinalis) and calendula (Calendula officinalis).
These three cool-season annual crops are all self-sowing; they drop seeds that produce plants the following year. Alyssum is a low-growing spreader with small white and purple flowers. Borage makes a blue-purple star-shaped flower, and its fuzzy leaves smell like cucumber. Calendula, a relative of sunflowers, makes orange and yellow daisy-like flowers with C-shaped seeds.