Make spring gardening child’s play

Children helping with the gardening, using tools available from Briers.
Children helping with the gardening, using tools available from Briers.

The Easter holidays are upon us and there’s no better time than spring to engage the kids with gardening projects, or take them to outdoor places which will both inspire and delight them.

It’s surely time to redress the balance of children’s lack of connection with nature. Some 12% of children in England have not visited a park, forest, garden or any other natural environment for at least 12 months, according to a new Government study.

Dandelions in a field.

Dandelions in a field.

So, have a look at Easter events with the National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk), whether it’s an Easter egg hunt, crafts, cookery or bushcraft skills.

The four RHS gardens (www.rhs.org.uk) will also be holding a range of events, from Lindt Gold Bunny hunts and spring ‘I-Spy’ - a journey around the garden looking for spring plants, animals and equipment - to themed storytelling and birds of prey displays.

But you can also sort out simple projects in your own garden, says Matthew Appleby, deputy editor at Horticulture Week, author, garden blogger and father-of-two, who is concerned that children are losing touch with nature.

“I see a ‘disconnect’ between children and nature - largely due to the rise of the internet,” he says.

“A poll by Persil found that more than half of parents encourage their children to avoid messy activities such as gardening and baking. One in three children say that they did not like getting dirty, their preferred activities being television-watching and playing on video games.”

Some companies have made inroads into tempting youngsters into the garden with their child-friendly products. Seed Pantry, for instance, has launched a new Children’s Me Seeds Starter Kit, containing seeds to grow cress, sunflowers, pumpkins and sweetcorn, as well as all the compost discs, pots and labels you need to get started (£12.50, www.seedpantry.co.uk).

Attractive children’s tools and clothing have also made their mark, with companies such as Briers (www.briersltd.co.uk) providing everything children might need for their garden adventures.

There’s also plenty of ideas for children’s projects in Appleby’s latest book, The Children’s Garden. These include:

The all-you-can eat hanging basket: The beauty of this idea is you get so many mini-projects in one basket. Fill a lined basket with potting compost, plant a strawberry plant in the centre and add basil and dill plants round the edge. Marigolds provide edible petals and colour. Tumbling tomatoes can cascade down the sides. Hang at children’s eye level so they can feed and water.