There are so many benefits to gardening. I know this. I understand this. Yet I still find it so difficult to do. My house is where plants come to die, my garden is the waiting room for plant heaven. What makes it worse is that I come from a family of gardening fanatics. My grandma (who is dubbed ‘Nanny’ by her grandchildren) has won multiple awards over the years for her gardening abilities. My own mother, also an avid gardener, manages every year to produce a beautiful paradise bursting with a variety of colour and scents that my children revel in whenever we visit. When I looked at my barren patio, with a brown fence and empty pots, I felt like I had really let the team down. Even the weeds looked sad. Like they were thinking, where the fuck have we ended up!?
I decided enough was enough. Since the entire country had entered lockdown, classes had become home based, and the kids were off school long-term. I was stuck staring at the empty and barren land that was ‘my garden’. On top of that, my children were stuck with an empty space that was neither inviting nor stimulating. So, with the nice weather on our side, me and the kids set out to create a nicer garden space.
At this point I should probably paint a picture of the task we were facing. I have a garden split over two levels. The top part is a patio and the bottom part is an uneven space of weeds and rocks. Or that was what it was when we moved in. Shortly after we settled here in 2015, we (and when I say we, I mean my husband) managed to get the lower part of the garden covered with ground sheets so that the weeds were controlled. It was lucky he did, particularly because a few weeks after it was covered, my mum turned up with a 10ft trampoline as a ‘summer gift’ for the kids. Although grateful, it was a tight squeeze, especially on such uneven ground. Wonder Husband managed to get it down there and set it up securely. Since then though, the bottom garden has been just black ground sheets and a trampoline that could probably do with being 2ft smaller.
I decided that the bottom patio was too much to tackle. While my garden desperately needed rescuing, I’m no Charlie Dimmock. I was also quite limited to what I could do with the entire country pretty much closed. So we decided to start small.
We managed to pick up some compost, pots, and a few little flowering plants to add a bit of colour.
Wonder Husband made me some planting boxes from recycled wood we had. The girls decided where the plants should go, and the Master of Mischief helped me plant each different flower.
To my surprise, it has actually been quite a nice experience. We have even moved into edible territory, with three small tomato plants that the kids were gifted by their schoolteacher.
On a whole, it seems that our gardening adventure has taught the kids to nurture and care for something other than themselves. Part of my degree focuses on the importance of outdoor space and play for children. This has definitely rung true in my experience as gardening has led to quite a few teaching moments for the kids.
For the girls, during one of our home school sessions, I found a video on YouTube that explained pollination. We were able to look at the things we have planted and then draw and label the different parts of a plant. They also decorated their own plant pots and are solely responsible for their individual tomato plants. It’s promoting confidence and responsibility and as a way to encourage them to continue this and notice the differing stages the plant is going through; they have started a weekly diary. The diary is also helping with their descriptive writing. They measure their plants to see how much it has grown, draw a picture, and write about the changes they have noticed. It has been an excellent activity to see them through the lockdown which has rippled through into developing their literacy and personal skills.
For the Master of Mischief, not only has he enjoyed the planting and watering of the flowers, it has ignited so many sparks for him. He has become more aware of where he is kicking the ball as he doesn’t want to squash his flowers. He has also been enjoying finding and ‘studying’ the different insects that are attracted to our garden. I wanted to plant things that would attract and help the bee population, so we have a lot of lavender (which I am told is a great plant for bees).
Our next big project is to make a bug house. Something I have been putting off considering that anything with more than 4 legs gives me the heebie-jeebies. We will get there though, probably with the help of Wonder Husband who is chief of protecting me from all things that crawl.
For anyone who is wanting to re-vamp their current garden or for those who don’t have a garden it’s well worth planting a little pot of flowers, herbs or vegetables for your children to care for.
I picked my pots and compost up from our local B&M Store. It was really cheap. I was quite pleasantly surprised. Basic round plastic garden planters start at £2 and troughs at £2.49. If you do have a few extra pounds you want to spend you can get colourful and novelty planters as well. Most supermarkets are now selling some form of garden essentials.
From someone who is the self-proclaimed ‘killer of plants’ I would highly recommend encouraging some form of gardening or creating a bit of space for your children to grow something in. You might even find you enjoy it as much as them.
I’ll keep you posted with how my garden grows…keep your fingers crossed for me.
Until next time.