mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children


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Chelsea – a sneaky peek

The so-called “greatest flower show on earth” opens its doors to the public tomorrow morning. On your behalf, dear readers, I have been rubbing shoulders with celebrities and enjoying a sneak preview of the Chelsea Flower Show at press day today.

The show gardens are, as ever, fabulous works of art with many exquisite planting schemes. chelsea flower show 2014 Foxgloves were very popular again this year and lupins featured in several gardens. lupins at the chelsea flower show

With many blue/white/pink herbaceous planting schemes around, Alan Titchmarsh’s first Chelsea garden in 30 years was refreshingly different and based on moorland sloping down to the coast.

chelsea alan titchmarsh garden I loved this moss in one of the smaller artisan gardens, and am wondering if it would be difficult to copy at home… detail of moss at chelsea flower show

In the floral pavillion, schoolchildren were on hand at the Miracle-Gro stand to explain their experiments in growing the same plant in different types of soil/compost. A brilliant idea that I will be copying with school gardening clubs.

chelsea compost experiment The ‘strangest item of the day’ award went to a 6ft dinosaur with rosebud tongue. chelsea dinosaur

At times it was difficult to concentrate on the gardens due to the high number of celebrities wandering around so I’ll finish with the name-the-celebrity game. (Apologies for the Hello!/OK!-style lapse, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.)

jerry hall at the chelsea flower show rowan atkinson at the chelsea flower show monty don at the chelsea flower show chelsea celebs chelsea celebs

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A Garden to Banish the January Blues

I’ll be the first to admit that our garden doesn’t look its best in winter.

There’s a bit of structural form (a few trees and some raised beds) and a tiny bit of colour from the plants that still have leaves. But it’s predominantly a mass of soggy lawn and bare stems.

So yesterday we took ourselves off to a garden that has been designed to shine at this time of year; the Winter Garden in Battersea Park.

And we were rewarded with an abundance of flowers on a cold, bright January day:

Hamamelis (witch hazel) flowers in winter

Chaenomeles (japanese quince) flowers in winter

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A Grand Finale

miniature garden

It’s the last school gardening club session this week because the rest of term is taken up with sports days, summer fairs and general end-of-term activities.

We try to finish on a high with something fun that can be taken home – making grass heads is a favourite ending. But, inspired by a recent visit to a model village, this term’s grand finale was designing and making miniature gardens.

Top tips if you fancy trying this yourself:

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This is Modern Art

lawn modern art

In the late 90s there was a television series on Channel 4 called “This is Modern Art”.  I must have quite liked it because I bought the book accompanying the series (although I can’t remember ever reading it and it still looks pristine on the bookshelf all these years later).

But some of the series must have infiltrated my subconscious.  Because today, when I was constructing a bird-proof cover for some grass seed, I found myself getting a bit carried away and I’ve ended up with my own piece of modern art.

The bottom of our garden is flanked by mature trees and, as a result, a patch of lawn that rarely sees the sun has died.  So I reseeded (50% shady lawn seed, 50% hard wearing utility lawn seed in case you’re wondering) and spent the next few days watching the pigeons feasting on my efforts.

Armed with a few bamboo sticks and a ball of string I have constructed the only thing in the garden ever to have been described as “awesome” by my children.  As I write, it’s being used as an obstacle course and I’ve been asked if it can stay in the garden permanently (I fear it won’t last the evening at this rate).  So forget climbing frames, swingball, rope swings, trampolines and wendy houses; all you need to do is get yourself down to Tate Modern for a bit of inspiration.


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Gardening in Miniature

Bekonscot Model Village

If you’re ever anywhere vaguely near Buckinghamshire, we’d recommend a visit to the model village of Bekonscot in Beaconsfield.

First opened to the public in 1929 and allegedly the oldest model village in the world, it’s a quaint replica of an English village from the 1930s with a lot of humour thrown in. It has everything from churches, schools, hospitals, hotels and houses to a mine, circus, harbour and even a house on fire. A model railway runs throughout and the whole model village is packed with so much detail that you keep discovering new things the second, third and fourth times round.  A good venue for birthday outings – the Queen came to visit as a child on the eve of her 8th birthday.

Bekonscot model village

And the tenuous link with gardening? Well it has immaculately kept grounds and gardens with virtually everything in scale – dwarf conifers feature quite a lot.  I’ve been asked if we could turn our entire garden into a model village, much more exciting than a lawn and a few flower beds 🙂