Monrovia Plant Savvy
design, inspiration and practical ideas from the plant experts. June 2013
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gardening with kids

Dear Savvy Gardener,

 

Make gardening fun for kids!  Let them choose some plants to grow and encourage them to spend plenty of time outside and to enjoy the garden.  Even chores like weeding or watering can become a game or competition. Did your passion for gardening start when you were young? Watching and helping a parent, grandparent or friendly neighbor turn bare dirt into beautiful and delicious plants? Now it’s time for you to be the mentor and get kids in your life into the garden. Share with them the wonder of planting, watering, feeding plants and watching them grow and burst forth with something to eat or flowers to enjoy. Kids already love to dig in the dirt, so it’s easy to get them started. Try giving them their own plot to garden. Not too big…it could even be a few containers. That way, they can take ownership of caring for the plants, then harvesting edibles and cutting flowers to bring indoors. Talk about what type of garden they want and take them to the garden center to buy the plants. Avoid plants with thorns or those that are poisonous if swallowed. Here are some ideas for kid-friendly gardens:

little hands in the dirt
  Albion Strawberry
leafgif   eat what they sow

Kids love berries because they’re tasty and so easy to grow, in the ground or a container. Strawberries grow fast and produce fruit for months and months. Our new Albion has super flavorful and abundant fruit; and Seascape has a long fruiting season. While most Raspberry shrubs are thorny, our new Raspberry Shortcake™ is thornless. Its dwarf habit makes it perfect for a container and easy for little hands to pick the sweet berries.

 

 
  Green Violetear leafgif  

Green Violetear

Kids are fascinated by the critters in the garden, so be sure to get some perennials that attract birds and butterflies. Veronica is easy to grow and its colorful flowers attract hummingbirds. Try bright blue Crater Lake, deep rose Red Fox or Royal Candles with its upright violet spikes. Butterflies love colorful Yarrow, because its flat topped flowers make great perches for those dainty creatures. Appleblossom has showy soft pink flowers and Paprika has deep red flowers. It’s easy to build your own worm farm. Youngsters love to watch the wrigglers, plus you get plenty of rich compost.

 

 
  Lavender Lady Passion Vine leafgif  

colors, shapes and textures

When you’re in the garden center, pick up a few interesting plants that are not common around your neighborhood. Passion Vine is a fast grower with delightfully intriguing flowers. Lavender Lady has long lasting, fragrant purple blooms. Balloon Flowers have puffy round buds that open into dazzling star-shaped flowers. Astra Double Blue is a dwarf variety with extra bright blue blooms. Princess Flowers have big purple flowers and irresistible fuzzy green leaves. Of course, the favorite foliage kids love to touch is the soft and velvety leaves of Lamb’s Ear.


 
  Goldflame Honeysuckle
leafgif   heavenly scent

Our sense of smell is closely tied to our memory…so if children have fond memories in the garden, it’s likely that throughout their lives the same fragrant plants will trigger happy memories. Gardenias are known for their heavenly scent…a Miniature Gardenia is the perfect size for budding gardeners. Star Jasmine has a memorable fragrance, as does Honeysuckle. The purple buds and yellow tubular flowers of Goldflame Honeysuckle will invite hummingbirds, too. Lavender is perfect for the fragrance garden. Regal Splendor has the best deep purple color.

 

 
  Homestead Red Verberna
leafgif   hurray for the red, white & blue

It’s fun to grow a patriotic themed garden. (Our Canadian friends can stop with the red and white!) For the red, nothing says 4th of July like the Firecracker Plant with its bright red tubular flowers. Or Homestead Red Verbena produces endless red flowers from early spring through frost. Look for pure white flowers like Bridal Veil® Astilbe, Cotton Tail Thrift or Edelweiss. For the blue…Morpho Grand Blue Larkspur and Grace Ward Lithodora. The blue varieties of Sage , like East Friesland, provide vivid color, too.