Posts tagged: children’s garden

Nice Day + Old Fish Tank = Terrarium

By , May 20, 2010 3:41 pm

Are you without any ideas for organized unplugged things to to do on a nice Spring day but you aren’t feeling ambitious enough for a full blown Children’s Garden?  Do you have an old fish tank, or large glass bowl?  See if your kids want to make a terrarium!

Very few children can resist the idea of their own tiny little garden.  Even I remember making one and being totally fascinated by the magic of such a small scale.  To me it was like a little doll house garden.  If you have a fairy-lover, call it a Fairy Garden.  A dragon-lover, why not make a Baby Dragon Garden!  Be creative.

Last Sunday when we had our first gorgeous spring day, I finally told my 9 year-old that she could have the old fish tank in our garage that had been gathering dust in our garage for at least 6 months.  She has had her eye on it for some time – but for me, snow and cold are not conducive to warm, green creativity.

We finally pulled it out and I told her she was on her own.

This is what she came up with all by herself (as long as you don’t count my driving her to the nursery to get her plants while I bought mine).

I LOVE the reuse of the little fairy house from our fairy garden of 2 years ago and the path of rocks that lead to it.  There is even a pond made out of a food storage container that my daughter wants to put tadpoles in.  She put some sea shells in the pond and broken terracotta pots as homes for the future frog residents.  Some of the ferns look like trees and there is a small sprig of English Ivy for which she plans to make her own twig trellis.

Very fun and easy!

– Teaches kids not only to be creative about their landscaping ideas, but responsibility in caring for their creation.

– If you don’t have a suitable glass container, try searching yard sales and thrift stores.

Flat – Stepping Stones (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , July 28, 2008 6:48 am

Hooray! We managed to participate in the Unplugged Project this week!  This week’s theme was flat.

My step-mother wanted us to make some “flat” stepping stones for a muddy patch of her garden here in Upstate New York, so I got brave and bought concrete, something I’ve never worked with before. 

Our supplies were the smallest available bag of quick-set concrete (40 lbs – ugh!), a bucket that we wouldn’t reuse, a stick to stir, some old shoe boxes for molds, and an assortment of “treasures” – dollar store shells and buttons, glass stones from a garage sale, and pieces of a cereal bowl that we broke by accident earlier in the week:

I mixed the concrete with water in the bucket. My advice: don’t try to mix too much at once. It is VERY hard to stir. Next time instead of trying to dump from a 40 pound bag, I would scoop some powder into the bucket so as to keep the mixture small and manageable. You can do several small batches like this, mix it more easily and thoroughly, and save your arms!

We poured the concrete into the molds and the kids began decorating:

We let them dry in the garage overnight. Tip: to move the now heavy and floppy shoe boxes without bending them and messing up the wet creation I slid a rimless cookie sheet under each one and transported them to the garage without damage.

24 hours later we were able to remove them from the molds. They came out very easily:

And here they are! Aren’t they lovely? My step-mom is thrilled:


What did you do this week for flat? If you joined in the Unplugged Project this week, please put your link in Mr. Linky below and leave a comment. I am still on vacation (until Wednesday), so I will try to visit, but can’t guarantee.


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project is:


Hope to see you next week!


The First Bloom!

By , May 30, 2007 12:11 pm


Today the children were excited to discover the first bloom from one of the perennials we planted last year…this lovely Columbine!Try gardening with your children! Read my recommendations here.

We are about to leave for a much hotter place and shall be truly unplugged for the next few days (I do hope we’ll be plugged into an air conditioner at least!)…

The Children’s Garden

By , April 10, 2007 10:05 pm

I never would have thought it possible, but kids really can take care of a small garden, and enjoy it too! See my post Kids and Gardens and Spring, for a personal story.

Here are some tips that I have found helpful for gardening with my two oldest children (ages 4 and 6):

  • Give them just a small area each and start with a small number of flowers. We did six flowers each. Anything more might be overwhelming.
  • Annuals are great because they provide immediate and long lasting flowers, and you have the fun of choosing new varieties each year. Seeds take a long time for short attention spans, and perennials often don’t have a long flowering season, plus they don’t always look their best the first year.
  • Kids love gear. Get them their own little kid-sized gardening gloves and they will be in heaven.
  • For older children, or for a family project, you could try a themed garden. Here are some ideas:
  1. Butterfly Garden – There are lots of resources on the web regarding what to plant to attract butterflies (check out The Butterfly Site – Gardening or The Garden Helper) . Choreopsis, Butterfly Bush, and Cosmos are some good ones to start with. If you can, and you really want to get into it, try to identify butterflies that are native to your area and also include plants that those species of caterpillar like to eat. Make sure your garden is in a sunny spot as butterflies only feed in the sun. Also provide a flat rock for warmth (the butterflies will sit on it and keep warm). You could even raise some butterflies to release in your garden. We did that last year and I was just as fascinated (if not more) than my kids! Check out a Live Butterfly Garden to get all you need to raise some Painted Lady butterflies, including mail-away certificate for larvae.
  2. Scented Garden – Choose plants that have nice smells. Herbs, lavender, mint, and scented geraniums are good ones to start with. Be careful with the mint as it can be very invasive. If you don’t want it to take over your garden, then plant it in a pot. Just make a big enough hole, and stick in the plant, pot and all. It will look normal from the surface, but it won’t be able to spread. By the way, you can really have fun with scented geraniums. There are some that smell just like lemon, and even a variety that smells like chocolate (check out Scented Pelargoniums or Mountain Valley Growers for more info!).
  3. Fairy Garden – Pick fanciful flowers: I like snapdragons (show your kids how the flowers can open and close like bunny mouths) and pansies (they look like they have faces). Anything small, and dainty, and lacy is nice too. Queen Anne’s Lace, Alyssum, Lilly of the Valley. Your kids can decorate the garden with little fairy houses made of sticks and rocks, with perhaps some acorn cap bowls of water for the fairies to drink!
  4. Colored Gardens – Pick your child’s favorite color and plan a garden using all that color. You may or may not want to include white flowers or green foliage for contrast.
  5. Night Time Gardens – White gardens really stand out at night. Plus some flowers only open at night. Night Gardening, The Evening Garden, and Moon Garden Flowers are good resources.
  6. An Edible Flower Garden – Herbs are an obvious choice here, but also include Nasturtium, Borage and other edible flowers (research this carefully first since some flowers can be toxic if eaten!).

The possibilities are endless, so just have fun!

Of course, as with any garden, the key to success is two-fold: 1 – Speaking from experience, I know it is easy to go overboard at the nursery. Do not take on more than you and your kids can handle (making a list ahead of time and STICKING TO IT helps). 2 – Whatever you decide to do, be sure to pick plants that will do well in your climate and yard/soil conditions. For example, don’t pick shade-loving plants for a sunny spot, or sun-loving plants for a flowerbed in the shade. You will just set your family up for failure and disappointment. A local nursery or a book such as my favorite, Right Plant, Right Place: Over 1400 Plants for Every Situation in the Garden, can help with this.

Thanks to and photographer puravida.

Kids and Gardens and Spring

By , March 20, 2007 12:15 pm

I love gardening. At the first hint of warm weather I begin to have detailed, yet wildly unrealistic visions of the beautiful, picture-perfect garden that I will certainly create this year. This spring I will plant some roses, and I have been researching different types of roses for the past two years (literally). I am not an impulse shopper in any regard, and certainly not where something seemingly as permanent as a garden is concerned.Last year I gave the kids a little patch of dirt to plant. I thought colorful annuals would satisfy short attention spans better than seeds or perennials. We went to the nursery and they got to pick six plants each, any annual they wanted. My daughter picked dainty alyssum as well as a variety of other flowers in pretty pink and purple tones. She is like me, not an impulse shopper. Much to my annoyance it took her close to an hour to make up her mind, even while being hurried along by me. My son (a typical “buy-the-first-thing-you-see-then-leave-as-quickly-as-possible” male) headed straight for the brightest flowers he saw: marigolds in varying shades of bright yellow and orange and rust. He chose five marigolds and a mint plant, because he liked the smell.

The deal was that they had to plant them themselves, and then water them everyday on their own without reminding. I had my doubts about the odds of their survival and felt grateful that my role in this life was to be my son’s Mom and not one of his marigolds.

Much to my surprise, the gardening experiment was a resounding success. They watered faithfully and I even taught them how to weed and deadhead by helping me. They kept their garden looking tidier than mine.

Now, every time we drive by the nursery they want to go and look at flowers. I have to explain that it is too soon, but they still don’t fully understand time, even my 6 year-old.

Meanwhile, I peruse garden magazines featuring fabulous, yet entirely impractical gardens for my climate, ability, and available time. I read the David Austin rose catalogue regularly, because this year, I really will take the plunge and order the roses of my dreams. I desperately want a Madame Alfred Carriere.

My kids have already, on their own initiative, planted pots with ancient seeds they found in the garage, and my son just brought home a sprouting Daffodil bulb that they forced at school.

Yeah! Spring is on the way!

(For my tips for gardening with kids, please also see my post: The Children’s Garden .)

Thanks to and photographer julesinky.

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