By Tamara Galbraith
Now is a good time to start planning your spring and summer gardens. Try planning a garden that will get kids involved!
Not all plants are created equal in the eyes of children. Although they don't differentiate when it comes to flowers and vegetables or annuals and perennials, kids have their hands-down favorites. They prefer huge flowers like marigolds, petunias, and sunflowers and small vegetables like cherry tomatoes, dwarf carrots, and radishes.
They love unique color shades, too, so make sure to include flowers with multi-colorings such as pansy, snapdragon and striped impatiens, and vegetables such as purple carrots, and 'Easter Egg' radishes, along with striped beets and tomatoes.
Textured plants are irresistible. If your conditions are right for them, include the fuzzy woolly thyme and lamb's ears, the prickly coneflower and strawflowers (for sunny locations) and donkey tail fern, maidenhair fern and columbine (for shadier spots).
Fragrant plants transport the imagination. If you grow them now, your child will always remember the scents of gardenia, heliotrope, roses, peonies, and lilacs. If you show them which plants to rub between their fingers, they'll never forget lavender, chocolate and pineapple mint, lemon balm, rosemary, basil, and scented geraniums.
Butterflies fascinate children, and there are many colorful plants that that will attract them. Consider including butterfly bush, lantana, monarda, salvia, sweet peas, and veronica--but don't overlook carrots, dill, fennel, and parsley to round out their diet.
Positively pickable plants also get the thumbs-up from kids. While mom's landscape may be off-limits for bouquet gathering, children should have free rein over certain cutting gardens. Cosmos, snapdragon, salvia, zinnia, coleus, and celosia are just a few that will produce more blooms if frequently picked.
Don't overlook spring- and summer-flowering bulbs that hold the promise and surprise of things to come. Use the same rules as above when selecting colors and varieties.
Gardening can truly be a fun experience for children. So start planning their garden today. You'll be getting started on creating memories that will last a lifetime.
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