My mother instilled within me a deep love for gardening. I remember how curious I was plus the wonderment of watching seeds grow into fragile seedlings, then maturing into robust plants and vegetables.
It’s amazing how children, even pre-schoolers, are intrigued by how things grow. Growing things, whether in an outdoor garden or indoors, is an ideal way to create an awareness of nature and our environment. Nurturing children to grow things also encourages creativity and fosters their innate curiosity. When a child is offered the opportunity to grow something that introduction, in turn, cultivates a love of nature within your child (or grandchild). So, why not give the gift of a garden to a child in your life this Christmas?
For those living in areas where gardens are still accessible through winter, there are far more options. I’m going to focus more on the Canadian gardening aspect. If a child receives seeds and tools for Christmas, if they can’t grow the items right away because of a thick bed of snow, it loses a bit of its shine. Why not purchase an amaryllis kit for a child? Kits come complete with pot, potting medium, bulb, and instructions. This way, the child can immediately “plant” the bulb, learning the correct method, water the plant and begin watching that green spike wriggle its way up and out.
It’s no secret children thrive on immediate or rapid results. That’s why an amaryllis kit or perhaps purchasing crocuses or hyacinths that can be forced indoors is so perfect for a child. A few other tips for nurturing children to grow things:
- Children like to have fun, so don’t make tending the bulb a chore. Instead make it a cheerful part of the day by keeping a growth chart so that the child can use a ruler for measuring the current height of the plant. And best not to get too rigid about dribbled water when the child is watering.
- Children’s interest may wane but their interest is easily re-ignited with your enthusiasm and gentle guidance.
- Don’t forget to take a photo of the child potting the bulb; watering it as it grows; and then again when it flowers. What a sense of pride and accomplishment for the child, plus they can show others what they’ve done!
- If you do live in the all-year-round gardening areas and give a gift of gardening tools, it’s best to purchase real tools that won’t break or bend easily (like the flimsy plastic ones for instance). Even proper care of tools can be taught and encouraged.
- If a plant doesn’t make it, this is a great time to explain that gardening and caring for growing things doesn’t always work perfectly. We can use this to teach them to figure out the reason for the plant dying: perhaps over watering, or insects, or some other reason. These can be ideal lessons for a child to learn. Then, like a child falling after his first try on a bicycle who dusts himself off, your child too can simply try again.
Were it not for my mother’s gentle, nurturing influence I may not have been quite so adventuresome in my first years of gardening. I likely already had the seed within me though I have no doubt my strong sense of caring for and interest with ecology of the land was germinated through that guidance from my Mom. Why not give a gift of gardening to a child in your life this year?
Diane Schuller is an award winning fiction writer who also writes about her other passions: gardening, dogs, nature, and the environment.