Giving a child a garden is a wonderful way to spark interest in the natural world and offers built-in lessons in ecology and personal responsibility. And at the end of the day, it’s something beautiful and rewarding that they can take pride in, knowing that they did it themselves. Parents will appreciate having some time to get things done in the garden, since the kids will be occupied with their own space. Just don’t forget that this space belongs to them, and will be more gratifying if you take a “hands off” approach. Try to choose a spot where you won’t be worried if it doesn’t look perfect, and where it’s ok if a few weeds or garden plants drop seeds – that’s all part of the experience.

When it comes to choosing a theme garden, the options are pretty much limitless, and it can be tough to choose just one when you have limited space. Here are some of our favorite creative ideas for theme gardens that will delight your child all summer long.

 

Bee and Butterfly Garden

Plant a garden for pollinators, then sit back and watch them feast! As added bonuses, you can harvest beautiful bouquets and your insect-pollinated garden veggies will thank you by producing extra-heavy yields. Creating a little path through it using flat stones surrounded by White Clover or Thyme will allow your child to enjoy the garden and observe all its flying visitors. We recommend:

Ornamental Blend Sunflowers

County Fair Blend Zinnias

Maayan Orange Calendula

Thyme

Sacred Basil

Catnip

 


Mammoth Sunflowers

Sunflower House

Use tall sunflowers to create a secret hiding place. Sow the hiding place with White Clover to make a comfy spot to sit, then surround it with alternating tall and medium-height sunflowers like:

Goldy Double

Lemon Queen

Ornamental Blend

Mammoth

For more info on flower houses visit: http://www.kidsgardening.org/activity/secret-hideaways-and-fun-structures

 


German Chamomile Flowers

Tea Party Garden

Design the garden as a tea party space, using recycled materials like boards and logs to make a mini table. Upended logs make cute chairs, and some yard sale tea cups will complete the set. Sow the tea area with White Clover for a cozy groundcover and surround it with herbal tea plants such as:

Sacred Basil

Chamomile

Catnip

Lemon Balm

Medium Red Clover

 


A Rainbow of Carrots

Strangebow Garden

Choose vegetables in every color of the rainbow – but look for ones that aren’t their usual colors. This is a great opportunity to learn about the different nutrients associated with different colors – like lycopene in purple carrots and anthocyanin in blue tomatoes. We recommend:

Red Swan Bush Beans or Pomegranate Crunch Lettuce

Toronjina F1 Tomatoes or Golden Midget Watermelons

Yellowstone Carrots or Boothby Blonde Cucumbers


Tipoff F1 Romanesco

Tipoff F1 Romanesco Cauliflower or Green Tiger Tomatoes

Blue Coco Pole Beans or Indigo Cherry Drops Tomatoes

Azur Star Kohlrabi or Dragon Carrots

Dakota Black Popcorn or Purple Beauty Peppers

Snowy Eggplant or White Satin Carrots

And try rainbow-colored Iko Iko Bell Peppers!

 


Kale growing under snow

Winter Garden

Focus on a year-round food supply with a garden that will provide all winter. Plant frost-tolerant crops like spinach and kale, storage crops like squash, potatoes and carrots, and heat-loving crops for easy, kid-friendly summer preserving projects like freezing herbs, tomatoes and peppers. We recommend:

Giant Winter Spinach

Lacinato Kale

Olympic Red Kale

Danvers 126 Carrots

Sugar Dumpling F1 Winter Squash

Stocky Red Roaster Peppers


Merlot F1 Tomatoes

Red Chieftain Potatoes

Katahdin Potatoes

Merlot F1 Tomatoes

Genovese Basil

 

 

Have a great idea for a "kinder garden"? Have your kids designed gardens of their own? Share your creative ideas in a comment below!