Spring has arrived, and with it Easter holidays and longer daylight hours. This will spur many people into gardening; whether they have a big space or simply a few window boxes or patio containers. Whatever your situation, we have plenty of books to help you if you’re planning to get your hands dirty this Bank Holiday weekend.
Gardening as a hobby is not confined to adults, so this post lists a number of titles relevant for the younger gardener. I have to admit my efforts to persuade my sons never amounted to much permanent interest with one fiery exception… Whilst the results were welcomed, we were overwhelmed one year with the results from our youngest son’s chilli plantation. We could have done with a guide such as this one: Best-ever chilli cookbook: hot and spicy dishes from around the world, by Elizabeth Young.
Before marching your young child outside it might be worth introducing them to the idea of gardening through a story. Two of my favourite children’s picture books are by author and illustrator Sarah Garland:
- Doing the garden
- Eddie’s garden (also recommended in the Guardian’s recent list of ‘books to help children love plants and gardening’).
For children interested in why and how plants grow, the following two books explain this with practical planting information around specific plants which will produce a spectacular result. (Judith Nicholls’ “small small seed” is a sunflower seed).
- The small, small seed, by Judith Nicholls
- Plant reproduction: how do you grow a giant pumpkin? by Cath Senker.
If you are not sure which plants are most suitable for children to grow and are spectacular enough to maintain their gardening interest, don’t panic. The Royal Horticultural Society has published a guide with you in mind:
RHS grow your own for kids, by Chris Collins
The author shows how to sow and grow up to 12 key vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peas, sunflowers, potatoes, monster pumpkins, mustard & cress, runner beans, courgettes. It also includes child-friendly fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes, together with other plants such as sunflowers, edible flowers and snapdragons.
A garden is not just a space for gardening and I imagine that few children would be happily occupied all summer solely with gardening tasks. A wide range of alternative outdoor (and indoor) activities are included in the following books:
- 101 things for kids to do outside, by Dawn Isaac
- Outdoor wonderland: the kids’ guide to being outside, by Josie Jeffery
- The Usborne little book of things to make and do in the holidays, by Ray Gibson
Also of interest for any child who has ‘caught’ the nature bug is The RSPB children’s guide to nature watching, by Mark Boyd, which includes a guide to many common species of British birds, animals and plants. Clear illustrations and key identification points, such as behaviour, voice and habitat help the child to identify the plant, animal or creepy crawly within your garden.
We wish you a very enjoyable Easter. Please note: the libraries will be closed for the weekend, reopening as usual on Tuesday 22 April, so make sure you get hold of all the books you need by the end of Thursday 17 April!