Gardening is one of life’s simple pleasures. And it’s one we love to share with our kids. Were they always fans of helping mom and dad in the garden? Nope! But now we have two budding horticulturalists who take great joy in plucking ripe strawberries off bushes they’ve tended to themselves. Looking to add some green thumbs to your brood? Here are a few ways to get the whole family interested in gardening:
Walk a garden
If you are looking for garden inspiration, there is no shortage of options in Metro Vancouver. Take a stroll through VanDusen Botanical Garden or, for something more tropical, the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in East Vancouver is particularly Zen and inspiring. For a look at some beautiful Pacific Northwest specimens, Darts Hill Garden Park in Surrey is a must-see, as is the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver. Lots of these venues offer programs and events geared specifically to kids. We often highlight them on our interactive events calendar and weekend events guide.
Take a workshop
Many garden centres and plant nurseries around Metro Vancouver offer gardening workshops for kids and parents. You can learn how to plant a fairy garden, what to put in a shade container garden, or how to grow the best strawberries ever. We’ve found some fun classes at Art’s Nursery in Surrey, GardenWorks in Burnaby, and Phoenix Perennials in Richmond. But we know that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Give your favourite garden centre a call to see what sort of programs they offer for kids.
Create a space just for them
When you are a kid, having something that is just yours is the best. That holds true for gardening too. Stake out a spot in your garden, or grab a pretty planter pot for a container garden and let your kids go to town. Let them pick out plants, fill the pot with soil, and plant their new leafy friends. Give them the task of watering and weeding, and watch their love of gardening grow. They’ll be so proud to show off their garden.
Bulky gloves and giant shovels can be hard for kids to maneuver, so suit them up in gear sized just for them. Small kids gloves and tiny garden tools can be found fairly inexpensively at garden centres and big box stores too.
Plant edible plants
Sure flowers are nice to look at, but perhaps your kids will be more motivated to help in the garden if they get to munch on what they grow. We love to plant a small edible garden of fruit and vegetables that are easy to grow – strawberries, peas, tomatoes, radishes, and carrots. Our kids love heading into the garden first thing in the morning to pick the ripe fruit. Barely any makes it to the kitchen, but the kids are so proud of their little garden that it doesn’t matter.
Watch and learn
YouTube is our go-to when we are trying to learn a new skill, and gardening is no exception. We love to watch gardening videos to get inspired and our kiddos love watching right along with us. For family-friendly viewing, check out Laura of Garden Answer. She has fun projects like fairy gardens, container gardens, and vegetable gardens. Her love of plants and gardening is infectious!
If you just don’t have the space for a garden in your own yard or on your balcony, check with your municipality to see if there are any community gardens to join. You can also see if your kiddo’s school has a gardening program to get involved in, ours is always looking for extra hands to help water and weed.
Let them get dirty
For most kids, the opportunity to play in the dirt, dig for worms and just get messy is reason enough to get in the garden – so let them get dirty! Dress everyone in clothes that are OK to be trashed, and let your kids go to town. For ease of cleaning up, we like to keep an old towel at the front door for a quick wipe down before heading inside for a bubble bath.
Yo, mama! On the hunt for more fun ways to get outdoors with your kids this spring? We’ve got you covered:
- the best bike rides for Metro Vancouver families
- 5 places to hike with kids in Metro Vancouver
- 10 ideas for outdoor rainy day fun
By: Michelle Hughes