I got hooked on gardening at age fourteen when I found mustard seeds in my parents’ spice rack, planted some and watched them transform into little trees with yellow flowers followed by a tangy and crispy crop! I started growing my own vegies and fruit, then started planting trees in local parks when there was no space left at home. Years later, when my own children started exploring and playing in the garden, I set out to connect my children’s experience of the garden with my passion for edible gardening, and came up with the ideas behind what I do now as a designer of edible and sensory children’s gardens. In this article I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learnt over the years if you’re interested in gardening with or for children.
Observe how children use the spaces in the garden and play spaces generally. Kids are generally far more imaginative than us, and care far less about things being neat and tidy, so take your cues from your kids as to what sort of garden they would enjoy most. Reflect on your own childhood experiences of the outdoors and how this shapes your expectations now: do you expect your kids to keep the garden neat and tidy or do you encourage messy play? will you let them create their own ramshackle treehouse or will you insist on it being perfect?
Plan ahead so that your garden can grow along with your children.