BLOOM AND BLOSSOM : GARDENING WITH CHILDREN
In honor of national gardening day, we have invited Whitney Caves, therapist, mother of a four year old Lily and avid gardener, to share on a topic close to our heart : the world of plants and flowers!
THE BENEFITS OF GARDENING
WHITNEY’S SEEDS :
Like so many others, I first began gardening when I was going through a particularly difficult season of life several years ago. I’ve found that gardening helps me stay grounded in, thankful for, and focused on the present moment (instead of worrying about the future). It has increased my patience, taught me the importance of sometimes clearing away what’s good to make room for what’s best (in the garden and in life), and reminded me that every amazing thing starts out small. More than anything else, gardening is a living proof that good things are always growing, even when I might not be expecting them.
So many people found a special relationship with gardening during time spent at home in 2020. As I worked with clients going through unprecedented amounts of trauma, loss, and grief, I found so much strength, joy, hope, and peace in my garden. I’ll never forget the day my first ranunculus bloomed last spring. It was the very same week that we had our first covid case in my state and it felt like a gift of goodness when I needed it the most. I’m sure I’ll have many special garden seasons in the future, but my 2020 garden will always hold a special place in my heart.
On a scientific level, studies show that gardening helps our bodies release serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals that help us feel good. I am always better and more relaxed after time spent working in my garden and this explains why.
I was also honored to be a guest on The Beginner’s Garden Podcast last fall. The host, Jill, and I had a wonderful conversation about gardening and mental health. Feel free to check it out here for more information on this topic!
OUR SEEDS :
As described by Whitney, gardening is excellent for both the mind and body. This is true for adults and for children too.
*It develops their sense of responsibility : Tending to a garden or even just a few seeds teaches children to take care of another living being, of something smaller and more fragile than themselves.
*It nurtures their self confidence : Watching a flower growing before their eyes thanks to their actions and good care can help children to take pride in their achievements. Seeing the visible consequences of a garden is rewarding.
*It teaches patience : Gardening is always worth the wait but can take weeks, sometimes months and may require several experiences as well as trial and error. A great way to learn patience in our fast paced world.
*It engages all five senses : The smell of flowers, the feel of dirt against hands, the taste of a carrot, the sounds of birds in the garden, the view of leaves changing colors… Gardening is a great way to connect to the Earth by engaging all our body and mind. It encourages healthy eating too!
*It develops organisational and maths skills : Measuring the right amount of earth, watering daily, deciding on when to plant… All this helps children to learn how to plan ahead, schedule tasks and organise themselves, essential qualities for daily life and work.
*It brings families together : Gardening can be practised at all ages by both boys and girls. It’s a fun way to create sibling bonds and family ties.
*It raises environmental protection awareness : It’s never too early to start teaching younger generations to take care of our planet.
GARDENING ACTIVITIES WITH CHILDREN
WHITNEY’S SEEDS :
I am continuously amazed at how much my daughter, Lily, has learned in the garden. I grew up out in the country and our garden feels like a way to share a little piece of my own childhood with her. From a young age she’s been able to identify many vegetables, flowers, and herbs. She loves to pick a snack straight from the garden and truly enjoys sharing our flowers with others.
I can see how gardening has helped Lily learn about generosity, patience, and working hard. I love the lessons she’s learning in our garden.
Even very small children can take part. If you have the space, children will enjoy having their own spot in your garden where they can “work” with their kid sized tools beside you. With guidance, they can plant seeds and help with watering and harvesting.
For those living in apartments in the city, herbs are a wonderful choice for a balcony. Children can help choose a great big planter with plenty of space for the herbs to grow, take care of the watering, and even use the herbs for cooking. They will be so proud of themselves and might even try a new dish!
Lily is wearing our Water Lily smocks Amandine dress
OUR SEEDS :
To find inspiration, we have rounded up some of our favorite gardening website listing activities to practice in the garden.
Earth Easy : High quality information on gardening. List of the 10 best crops to grow with children and tips on how to include children in the process.
Kids gardening : A gardening tool box with resources organised by topic, level and location! A security check is required to access the website but it’s definitely worth it !
Spruce Crafts : Sweet gardening crafts for your little artists !
Red tricycle : 11 easy gardening ideas for children !
ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS : TIPS FROM WHITNEY
I used to believe there was such a thing as a “green thumb” but now I know there is only practicing and learning. During my first year as a gardener I killed nearly everything I planted. The second year was the same, except that year I thought I might have some ideas about where I’d gone wrong. The third year I applied what I’d learned and had much greater success. There is always room for learning and growing, which is another thing I love about gardening.
If you’re brand new to gardening, my best advice is to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed! Begin with a few herbs in a large planter or one 4x4 raised bed. Do some research about soil, light, and watering. Then do your best and enjoy yourself! You will almost certainly kill a few things, but a few things will probably live and thrive! Then you can expand on what you’ve learned the next year. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have!
OUR FAVORITE FLOWER/GARDENING QUOTES
Daily gardening inspirations and quotes for your Instagram bouquets!
"Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth's lips spoken without sound."
"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."
"Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower."
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
"Let your joy burst forth like the flowers in the spring."
"Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace."
"When at last I took the time to look into the heart of a flower, it opened up a whole new world; a world where every country walk would be an adventure, where every garden would become an enchanted one.”
"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece !"
"As she planted flowers in her garden, she thought to herself... what a wonderful world!"
"A garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature."
WHITNEY’S FAVORITE GARDENING ACCOUNTS
I’ve found gardeners to be the most encouraging, generous, and friendly people, both online and in person. A few gardening accounts I love:
@thebeginnersgarden : Free garden printables and guides, product advice and a podcast.
@peoniesandpeppers : The prettiest peonies grown by a family in North Carolina. Garden Handbook and facebook group.
@michellecannonsmith : Tips and tricks to achieve joyful gardening. Follow the family’s daily life.
@mycahhunter : Beautiful backyard gardener account
Other accounts : @ashleighbyrne , @byclairewiley , @raisingnolagirls , @southernbellablooms , @stemandquillflowers , @gillianliveslightly
Follow Whitney on Instagram : @whitneycaves
Read her blog
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