Inspiring Child-Friendly Gardens
We received a book about children and gardening as a gift; and I am so glad we did! The author is a gardener with a passion: inspiring children to enjoy the creativity, beauty and usefulness of gardening. The book has inspired my daughter and I to get our hands dirty.
The book, Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy, begins with an annotated list of the top 20 garden plants for children. It then proceeds to describe nine themed gardens, such as the Snacking and Sipping Garden, the Flowery Maze and the Sunflower House. For each of these gardens, Lovejoy describes the garden’s purpose, lists its plants and how to care for them, presents the garden’s plan and lists activities for children to help them explore their garden. The book ends with some basic tips for planting and tending gardens. Throughout the book is beautiful hand-painted artwork by the author. When I first flipped through the book it was the artwork that drew me in. I found the text to be just as enticing. For a family with an interest in gardening, this book is a gem.
My interest in the book was renewed with the arrival of our first seed catalogue from William Dam Seeds. Despite the fact that our gardens are blanketed with snow, the bright colourful images of the catalogue inspired my imagination to paint serene, colourful garden scenes; it had an almost hypnotic effect on me as I paged through. I’ve since circled plants in the catalogue that Lovejoy lists in her book and that I would like to grow in our gardens. I requested Dad take me on a trip to William Dam’s store as our Valentine’s Day date.
Our youngest daughter shows the keenest interest in gardening. She sits beside me as I flip through the catalogue and circles the flowers she likes best. She was very excited to find one that shares her name. I like to spend this time with her. We share the same interest and it brings us closer to one another. Gardening is therapeutic for the body and mind and having my daughter get excited and dream about floral possibilities is special to me.
I enjoy gardening, especially when I consider some of the benefits of the activity. Here is a quick summary of the benefits of spending time in the dirt with plants:
Relieves stress (reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone)
Builds immunity (direct exposure to dirt and plants boost the immune system)
Provides exercise (3 hours of moderate gardening = 1 hour gym workout)
Stimulates the brain (daily gardening can reduce risk of dementia)
Improves diet (growing veggies makes us more conscious of the food we consume)
Given those benefits, I’m going to be tinkering in the soil for as long as I am able. If I can get my children hooked on gardening too, then I’ll be a happy mom. As for my youngest daughter and I, we’re planning to try the Sunflower House garden this summer. If we succeed, then all of my little ones will see that another benefit of gardening is creating a safe place for imagination and play.
Harding, A. (2011, July 8). Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/
Jacobs, R. (2014, September 14). 6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening. Retrieved from http://learn.eartheasy.com/2014/09/6-unexpected-health-benefits-of-gardening/
Lovejoy, Sharon, 1999. Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children. Workman Publishing: New York.