We can all cast our minds back to a flower or plant that we remember fondly from our childhood, whether it be the plant themselves or the scent from a powerful bouquet. The one thing we can help give a child is the happy memory of such a thing by showing them how they can have fun with flowers.
As far as flowers go for very young children the best ones to grow are sunflowers – children love the fact that these flowers will grow and grow. Sunflowers are by far the most fun plant for your child to grow and track their progress. Why not make a wall chart for the plants so your child can see just how much and how quickly the plant grows –the towering bloom will seem quite gigantic to a small child and hints at Jack and the Beanstalk levels of planting fun and is something they can relate too– minus the scary giant of course!
To do this is simple and it is up to you how many you choose to plant.
- Growing a Sunflower
You will need one packet of sunflower seeds, these seeds are the perfect size for little fingers to plant, use one per container if you are growing them in pots and increase the size or transfer to the soil in a flower border as the plant grows and needs more room. The best spot will be where they can have the sun for as much of the day as possible.
One way of holding a child’s interest is if you help them to keep a journal about the flowers they are growing. Take photos and let them write it (if they are old enough to do so) or draw pictures allowing them to record their plants progress as they go. You can also save the flower head for feeding the birds. Cut the flower head once it has finished flowering and children can see the birds enjoying the fruits of their labour.
- Container Garden
If you don’t have a garden or are limited with outdoor space why not create a windowsill garden? It needn’t be a costly exercise either as any pot or tub that fits your windowsill can make a great container. Choose something that grows quickly and will look vibrant once the plants have grown, even unusual plants such as cacti and Venus flytraps will stir curiosity in a child. A container can be used to grow herbs as well as flowers; plants that can be used to create something after they have grown and will be around for a while such as chives will bring a sense of pride to a child who can then use it in cooking and baking.
- String Bean Tepee
If you want to take on something a little more creative why not create a fun area for children to play in? A String bean Tepee is the perfect fun thing to make for a small child. The beans are fast growing, the tepee provides a shady play space in the garden and they can harvest and then eat the beans once they are ready.
To do this choose any type of fast growing, climber bean seedling and construct a tepee shape with six-eight bamboo canes. Bind them together with twine to make a tepee shape and plant the bottom of the poles firmly into the ground. Wind some more twine at two foot intervals around the tepee so you can create something for the beans to cling to as they grow. As the plants grow, train them around the poles and twine so you gain maximum coverage around the tepee. By the height of summer you should have a bean covered tepee that your child will delight in playing in.
- Long Term Plants
If you would like something more long-term that really will grow with your child then why not think about roses? A rose shrub can easily be acquired from garden centres, if you have the space then why not create a border in the garden with different coloured rose bushes, or if you prefer buy a miniature rose variety and plant it in a tub. Each spring the children will delight in seeing their shrubs come into bloom and enjoy their scent. They can also help maintain the bush by deadheading in the autumn and feeding and watering when required. Many varieties are now available without thorns so it’s easier for little ones to participate.
Imagine your child’s sense of pride and accomplishment once the flowers they have grown are used in a display to decorate the home.
Whatever you decide to grow with your child – the golden rule is to make it fun! Fast growing varieties are the best ones to choose for very little ones to hold their interest. When they have grown up and flown the nest, why not send them a reminder of your special time together and send them an unexpected bouquet of the same flowers they had fun growing as a child. The colour and smell is sure to evoke a memory of that favoured past time that they had with you.