Everything you need to know to get your kids to love gardening
Wondering how to cultivate a green thumb in your little ones? Gardening has myriad benefits for children - here's how to get them planting.
Why is planting the seed for an interest in gardening so important for children? Let us count the ways: gardening can get children to spend more time outdoors and away from their screens. It can help educate them about the environment - after all, mass tree planting can help combat global warming (we hope). Gardening is also a mindful activity, promoting a feeling of being in the now that can help ease anxiety and worries.
Gardening can also teach kids that all-important lesson of where food comes from - crucial if we want our children to learn to eat healthily, and integrate lots of fruit and vegetables into their diets. For London kids, who may not have gardens at home, spending time in the soil can be hugely beneficial. As the RHS's Alana Cama, Schools and Groups Programme Manager, says: "Getting children gardening is a great way to spark their interest in the natural world. It’s an easy way to help them discover where our food comes from, improve their health and wellbeing, and teach them to look after the environment."
Here are some tips and ideas to inspire a love of gardens - and gardening - in your children.
Find a friendly gardening initiative
Whether you're an urban mouse or a country one, there are plenty of initiatives around the UK to get kids planting, from Innocent's Big Grow, Grow Your Own Potatoes and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, which has resources, competitions and more for kids to get stuck into. Alana Cama gave us a few of her top tips for getting kids gardening over the summer hols - what better time to start?
- Give them their own garden
- Get MUDDY!
- Choose quick growers
- Go wild with a bug hotel
- Make a mini pond
- Try something tasty
- Introduce the weird and wonderful
- Garden for good!
- Cook and eat
- The cycle of life
From 20 July–2 September, visitors to RHS Gardens can enjoy a special anniversary celebration of The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 50th Anniversary with Family Fun Garden Adventures with The Very Hungry Caterpillar with fun family trails and workshops at RHS Garden Wisley.
Fun at the Chelsea Physic Garden
Take them to see London's amazing gardens
Who says urban babies don't have access to some glorious gardens? From Kew to the Horniman to Chelsea Physic Garden - London's oldest botanic garden - there's no shortage of fun to be had in London's public gardens. Chelsea Physic Garden engages young people through community projects and schools outreach, and has tons of family-friendly plant-themed events to check out like chocolate workshops (yes, tasting is involved), soap and candle making, plant-based potion workshops and creepy crawly animal discovery sessions.
Getting into the community garden spirit with The Garden Classroom
Get digging and embrace the forest school classroom
Rosey Lyall of The Garden Classroom, a charity which connects urban families with nature, gives her top tips on ways to encourage your child to dig and be one with Mother Nature:
- Find a community garden
- Encourage foraging and exploration
Skip Garden & Kitchen King's Cross
Turn any opportunity into a chance to learn
Even mealtimes can be a source of gardening love - after all, the soil is where much of the food we're eating comes from, and the more kids know about growing and preparing food, the likelier they are to want to start making and tasting their own healthy dishes. The Petersham Nurseries-style dining experience of being surrounded by flora while eating the most gorgeous local food is one we'd wholeheartedly recommend for both parent and child enjoyment. For a more dig-in-the-dirt experience, Skip Garden & Kitchen in King's Cross provides plenty of gardening workshops and opportunities, from worm-composting to watering - as well as lunch.
A lack of outside space doesn't mean you can't create an urban oasis in London: just decorate your urban interior with plants to embrace the most natural thing in the world, our connection with nature (aka biophilia). If you need some inspo on how to do this, check out coworking space Second Home, a plant and light-filled oasis with live moss and hanging ferns to ensure nature is always there, even when you're mid client-call. At your actual home, a few plants in the kitchen is a good start - and getting the kids to learn to take care of them (water, sunlight), is even better, while house plants in baby's nurseries are having a moment in interiors right now. Some families may even be interested in schemes like Rewild My Street, which offers resources to help encourage wildlife back into your street and garden.