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inspiring gardening projects for children


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A blast from the past

the ladybird book of garden flowers

When I was growing up, everybody had Ladybird books. The fairy tales were my favourites, particularly Rumplestiltskin and the Princess & the Pea, and I can still picture the distinctive illustrations all these years later.

I can’t remember whether I ever had the Ladybird Book of Garden Flowers but in a fit of nostalgia, I ordered an old copy for myself recently.

And it’s amazing how much horticultural detail is crammed into this little book; descriptions of flowering plants with their relevant plant family and the type of soil they thrive in. No gimmicky cartoon characters in sight, just dated but strangely appealing illustrations.

ladybird book of garden flowers

I love the way the book is written in a slightly formal prose as befits a book first published in 1960. I think my version must have been published around 1973, because there is a decimal price on the back cover and it refers to over 330 ladybird titles – see here for a quick guide on how to date old ladybird books.

Let me leave you with a little gem from the introduction:

I know you will enjoy growing flowers once you start, because there is no more satisfactory hobby.”

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Teeny Tiny Gardening

Teeny Tiny Gardening Book

‘Teeny Tiny Gardening’ by Emma Hardy (published by Cico Books) is not a children’s gardening book but it contains lots of projects that would be perfect for attempting with children.

Even if you don’t try any of the projects, the book is a delight to browse with its beautifully styled photographs and clear step-by-step instructions.  There’s something very appealing about small, bite-sized gardening projects, giving you the feeling that you could achieve great things before you’ve even finished breakfast.

Some of the projects I’ll be adding to our must-try list are:

Cacti in glasses from Teeny Tiny Gardening

Simple but inspired; a fresh approach to displaying cacti and much more attractive than the usual arrangement of a few random cacti in non-matching pots on a dusty windowsill. My daughters already have a small collection of cacti each – they’re great plants for children (and adults) who aren’t too good at remembering to water –  and displaying them like this will be a simple step. These would also make lovely little gifts.

guttering garden by Teeny Tiny Gardening

I’ve seen vegetable seedlings growing in guttering before and I really like these painted pieces of guttering attached to the side of a shed. Great if you have limited space and I’m thinking they could also be used for growing lettuce in a school garden.

And my absolute favourite;

green roof birdhouse from Teeny Tiny Gardening

I’ve been toying with the idea of putting a green roof on our garden shed for some time but have been put off by the fact that I’d need to strengthen the shed with internal batons first.  And woodwork is not one of my strong points; I nearly cut my finger off in one of the first woodwork lessons at school and things haven’t improved much since then.  But the instructions say that only basic woodwork skills are needed and a slightly rough finish adds to the overall charm, so I’m very tempted to give it a go. Watch this space.

Not all of the projects in the book are to my taste (the planted suitcase and chair for example are a bit too contrived for me and won’t be finding a home in my garden) but with 35 projects there’s something for everyone. Overall a rather charming little book and a big thumbs up from us.


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Michelle Obama’s Kitchen Garden

michell obama's kitchen garden bookI confess to being intrigued every time the White House kitchen garden is mentioned in the press. I have sooooooo many questions. Is Michelle out there weeding every day? Is she an experienced gardener? How big is the garden? What do they grow? Do they ever have disasters? Do the girls and Barack pull the occasional weed?

Luckily most of my questions have been answered in this book, published last year. It’s a strange mix of the story of the development of the White House kitchen garden, Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthy eating and exercise to combat rising childhood obesity, profiles of community gardens across America and a few snippets about life in the Obama household.  Oh and plenty of gorgeous, glossy photographs of the garden.

So, is Michelle out there toiling in all weathers? Continue reading