The annuals are in and the perennials have been springing into full summer glory over the past few weeks. I’m very excited to be out gardening, and watching everything come to life. My mother is an avid gardener, and I have strong memories associated with certain plants from my childhood. I started to think about what plants are fun to have around for children.
I only have the time and space to name a few, but here are ten of my favourites:
- You can pull a blossom off, pinch the edges and make them “snap” like a dragon
- They come in a wide range of beautiful vibrant colours
- They smell like Kool-aid
2. Cherry tomatoes: We had a bumper crop of juicy, sweet, perfect cherry tomatoes last year. It was an almost magical way of getting my (rather picky) 5 year old to eat. He snacked on them all the time. Grocery store tomatoes have been ruined for me since then – bland, soggy masses of disappointment that they are.
3. Milkweed: Who doesn’t like butterflies? Milkweed is a wonderful food for butterflies, and planting it helps conserve threatened species. Remember pulling apart the pods to release the silky soft tuft inside? If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it.
4. New trees: When we were kids, my sister and I nursed some baby maple trees until they were very tall. I remember being sad to leave them behind when we moved across the country. My husband and I couldn’t bear to toss out a baby maple that we pulled out of the garden three years ago. It was only about a foot high then. We like comparing the tree with the growth of our own little baby. Check them out now!
5. Early spring bulbs: It’s fun to be one of the first people in the neighbourhood with little green shoots poking out of the snow. Crocuses and snowdrops are some of the earliest to appear. This is one way to get kids (and me) excited about spring’s arrival. See my post on “signs of spring.” https://unlockingthegate.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/signs-of-spring/
6. A child’s selection of annuals: We like to give our son free reign over selecting and planting some annuals in pots for our yard. These always turn out to be the most playful and colourful arrangements. There is something magical and free about kids and their lack of predetermined rules of colour and coordination.
7. Herbs: Why does my child smell like chives all summer long, but pulls the smallest sliver of onion out of his dinner with distaste? He loves to graze on the herbs in the garden.
8. Peonies: I remember watching ants crawl all over peonies as a child. Some people think that the nectar of the flowers attracts the ants, and that the ants help unfurl the densely packed petals. I couldn’t find a definite answer on this, but it’s a neat story about symbiotic relationships. Just beware if you bring them in your house! Also, peonies smell amazing.
9. Pickin’ flowers: In public woods or fields, flower picking is no longer a sanctioned activity. That’s so sad. All we mothers can ever expect these days is a sticky bundle of dandelions. We’re trying to encourage a wildflower garden to grow along the back of our property. I hope that one day it will be teeming with colourful native flowers that my children can gather by the handful.
10.Touch-me-not (a.k.a. Tickle-me plant, Mimosa pudica): Ok, I’ll be honest, I’ve never planted this, and have only seen them once or twice. This plant curls up instantly when it is touched, and then uncurls again. I’m going to have to find one of these. Apparently they’re good houseplants too. If you haven’t seen them before, check out this video I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLTcVNyOhUc
Those are just the first ten things off the top of my head.
What are your favourite things to plant for or with children?
I’d love to hear from you!
(Note: I have decided to post my “species of the week” posts separately. Please stay tuned for my first selection shortly!)