Enjoying a garden with your child
Children are never too young to learn to experience the joy of gardening and watching plants develop
which will pay off when they begin to read and they must be able to tell the differences between say an “e” and “c”.
Although these children cannot tell likes and differences yet, the more experience they have exploring, the easier that will come.
Stage 2 (18 months-5 years): A child learns a great deal about its immediate environment during this stage. In this era, experiment in the garden with the concept of taste, but be very careful that what your child puts into her mouth is safe to taste.
Let your child taste many things such as lemon juice from an actual lemon (sour), nectar from the honeysuckle flower (sweet), and aloe sap from the leaves (bitter).
Your child should know that a lot of plant parts are eaten in absolute safety, such as lettuce leaves, tomato fruit, nasturtium leaves and pansy petals, but stress that she must check with you first before she tries to eat any plant because some plants are poisonous – such as all parts of the invasive oleander.
Stage 3 (5-7 years): A child begins to group things and can now recognise the properties of objects during this era. The concept of taste can be taken further as nearly all our food starts from a plant growing in the soil.
Today we tend to eat too fast and do not really experience the true taste of the food. Taste can actually embrace all the other senses.
Young children love to bake goodies and we can start this from an early age, making them aware of where the basic ingredients originate. If you are cooking biscuits, discuss with your child where the sugar (sugar cane), coconut (coconut palm), flour (wheat), oats and cocoa (cocoa tree) come from, and where and how these plants grow.
Stage 4 (7-13 years): By the age of seven, children can imagine classes and series in their minds without having to work it all out in action. Having scoped and scanned
Recognise National Water Week (which ends tomorrow) and help conserve water by collecting rainwater off roofs and channelling into tanks. Instead of letting rain and stormwater disappear into storm drains, mulch the soil to encourage it to soak into the ground.
Make use of low-lying areas in the landscape to collect run-off, and provide a place for moisture-loving plants such as arums and tree ferns. If the area is large enough, this could be made into a pond.
Allow water to soak into the soil and provide additional planting space by terracing steep banks. Agapanthus their environment, they can now get down to the doing of gardening.
Planting is central to a child’s development during these years. Winter-flowering seedlings, such as pansies – which are not only edible but also colourful, are ideal for planting over the holiday weekend.
Help children to choose a suitable site which is not too big in the garden. Let them dig the soil over to about 25cm, add a bag of compost to every two square metres of soil, and water this very well.
To choose which plants your child will put in the garden, take them to the local nursery and spend some time viewing the varieties. Show your child the different labels in the seedling trays, and help him/her to understand the codes.
Back at home, water the seedling tray well before planting. Make a hole in your bed big enough to hold a seedling plug. Carefully remove the plug from the tray by pushing up the base if it is plastic, or turning the tray upside down and gently tapping it if it is polystyrene.
Show the children how to firm the plant in the ground with their fingers, and let them water the soil thoroughly and regularly according to the needs of the plants.
Growing and nurturing plants in the garden will give children an appreciation for nature. They will learn, by association, that forests take decades to grow, and that undisturbed kloofs filled with pools of water and tree ferns are very special.
Planting up pansies in the garden this weekend could be the beginning of a life-long journey for your children.
An early understanding of nature is nothing short of a gift. modified to store nutrients and water, and to reduce moisture loss. Some have leaves with a small surface area, while others have a waxy covering or a coating of fine hairs. The elephant bush spekboom ( Portulacaria afra) is a 2-3m shrub of unusual shape, with succulent stems and leaves, and pink flowers in early summer. It is grown as an attractive screen or hedge in arid gardens.
With their striking form and narrow leaves, yucca, cordyline and phormium are useful in dry landscapes as accent plants among large rocks, in pebble or gravel mulch, or as a contrast with plants of rounded shape.
SANDS OF TIME: A tepee designed over a sandpit, surrounded by pungently scented summer-flowering marigolds is the ultimate child’s garden.
FUN IN THE SUN: A jungle gym which includes a web of ropes over an imaginary river provides older children with a glorious early outdoor experience.
MAGIC MOMENTS: Linking stories in books to the magic of a garden.
SUN SCREEN: Incorporate children’s play areas into your garden design.
PRETTY PANSY: Plant up a pansy this weekend.
Arctotis Sunset Radiance