If you could start fresh what would you put ina childs garden

Juhii1(z9 N. CA)September 3, 2002

We just purchased a new home and the back yard is just dirt. Planning on placing sprinklers and sod 1st. As well as I already have a preformed pond that will go into one corner with possibly a picket fence around it. I have 2 children ages 3 and 6 and one due at the end of November. I'm not sure of the measurments yet on the yard (we get the keys on friday) I'm sure I want some sort of swing set and I also will install a drinking fountain outside. Other then that I need ideas for a child friendly garden. I will consider plants that are toxic depending on the plant. I have Cardnial flowers already for near the pond and may get some fox glove. These types of plants would be planted in less accessable area of the garden, probably behind that fence and behind the pond as they are tall an would still be visable. As long as I know the toxicity of a plant it will be considered. Any ideas are welcome. TIA


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cherry tomato's & carrots
my daughter when young loved picking, washing & eating both
& they're easy to grow.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2002 at 8:11PM
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I have 5 boys aged 1,1,4,8,12, and we love gardening together. We too have recently purchased a new house, one in the country. As we were all city slickers previous to this, it's been quite the change. As for the garden, the kids love everything we've planted...they are quite amazed by the whole process. Not only do they get lots of fresh air gardening with me, they actually relish eating the veggies we've grown. My 4 yr old eats salad now!!!

Our family's favourites are sunflowers, tomatoes, corn, lettuce and of course pumpkins...we plant large as well as miniatures. The boys have also taken an interest in the herb garden which is great!!!

I've also given them each a couple of pots to plant their own little gardens...cherry tomatoes, peas and some flowers...it's great to see them take such an interest and take such good care of their little garden.

Good luck...if you need any further ideas let me know...I have many...too many for my own good (so says my hubby) lol


    Bookmark   September 9, 2002 at 9:56PM
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Juhii1(z9 N. CA)

I'm more interested in landscaping type ideas.. But even at the landscape design forum I'm still not getting the answers I hoped for. I plan on having a square foot garden where we will plant our veggies and such. I guess I'm just going to have to get a landscape book or magazine that has some more ideas. The best thing I've read so far was the idea to make a sand pond. I think this will be fun to do in the opposite corner from the real pond and I will dig it to be about 2 feet deep and line it with something maybe our old childs pool with drainage holes punched into the bottom so they have room to really dig with their shovels and such. And edge it with flat slate type rocks to make it look more pond like. I'll add my little girl water fountain over in their area to have some running water that they can get into with out mommy getting really angry over sand in her pond. And I guess with the swing set and my pond I won't have that much other landscaping to do. We'll see as time goes by...

    Bookmark   September 13, 2002 at 4:56AM
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carrotop(SE On.)

If you literally mean a garden for children to enjoy I first would let them plant sunflower seeds. They can watch them grow which is actually very quickly and eventually remove the sunflower seeds and fry them (with a little salt they are amazing). I would also teach them how to plant carrots because they are nice to eat right out of the garden. And lastly, if room warrants it a few pumpkins. They will sow in May and reap a jack-o-lantern in Oct. One just has to think like a kid!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2002 at 4:25PM
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bhnash(z16(9) CA)

I found a great book called "Creating a Family Garden", unfortunately I loaned it out so I don't know the author off-hand. It has tons of great ideas, from how to make a safe tree swing, to play houses, to paddling streams. A really great idea is to use willow branches and stick them in the ground and tie them together on top to make a tee-pee that will grow! Or make an archway over a path that you can hang a swing from when the kids are little, and later you can remove the swing and enjoy the archway with climbers on it. It has great lists of plants that are safe and fun, and even ideas on animals in the garden, like chickens. Anyway, I love this book and can't wait until it's return.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2002 at 1:44AM
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garden_spider(8 Prosperity SC)

I would suggest a cutting garden, I have already started preparing a new bed for my 2 granddaughters to enjoy. When they come to visit "Grancie" they will help tend to their special garden & can pick bouquets to take home to mommy.

Annuals for a cutting garden
[* indicates good for drying also]
Ageratum (Floss Flower)
Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding)
Ammi majus (Bishop's Flower)
Bells of Ireland
Callistephus chinesis (China Aster)
Celosia, cristata (Cockscomb)*
Celosia, plumosa (Feather)*
Celosia, spicata (Wheat)*
Centaurea (Bachelors' Button)
Cleome (Spider Flower)
Dimorphoteca sinuata (Cape Marigold)
Eustoma (Lisianthus)
Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth)*
Gypsophila (Baby's Breath)*
Helichrysum (Strawflower)
Helipterium (Everlasting)
Matthiola (stock)
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Nigella damascena (Love-fn-A Mist)
Reseda Odorata (Mignonette)
Salvia farinacea
Scabiosa (Pincushion flower)
Sweet Pea
Verbena bonariensis

Perennials for a cutting garden
Achillea (Yarrow)*
Chrysanthemum, such as Shasta Daisy
Dianthus, deltoids (Pinks)
Digitalis (Foxglove)
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Echinops exaltatus (Globe Thistle)*
Gypsophila (Baby's Breath)*
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Poppy, Shirley or Iceland
Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)
Solidago (Goldenrod)

Foliage for a cutting garden
Asparagus, densiflorus
Asparagus, sprengeri
Dusty Miller
Euphorbia (Snow on the Mountain)
Flowering Cabbage
Flowering Kale
Sage, Tri-color

    Bookmark   October 7, 2002 at 10:46PM
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weaserbug(z5 IA)

The sand pond idea is really unique. Sounds like fun. My suggestion would be to think of some sort of cover for it when it's not in use because the neighborhood animals may want to use it as a litterbox when no one is around. Wouldn't want your little ones to find that sort of 'treasure'.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2002 at 4:36PM
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Shag(z4 MT)

Juhii: I'm still wondering how your kids garden came out. I ran across this thread accidentally and noticed you wrote: "I'm more interested in landscaping type ideas.. But even at the landscape design forum I'm still not getting the answers I hoped for." gosh, I thought you got some pretty good ideas from the landscape design forum. Can you be more specific about what kind of answers/ideas were you looking for? (no offense intended, really ... :>) maybe that might get some of the professionals fired up...

Did you put in a sand pool yet? Having water in it might be kinda neat -- just wanted to let you know the sand ponds we do here are not meant to actually have water in them. They're kind of an "imaginary" pond or lake or ocean . . . if you haven't already built it, you could save yourself some trouble by just digging an area for the sand 12" deep or so -- no need for a liner. Boulders look more natural than flat slate lining the perimeter of the pond and keep the sand in better. Anyway, having water somewhere near or in *part* of the pond sounds interesting.

How old are your kids? Most of the kids I've designed gardens for like a sand play area much bigger than a childs-size pool. But maybe you don't have lots of room for much bigger than that. I'll take some photos of a couple of the "sand ponds" we've installed for kids . . . if you're still interested in doing something like that. I don't have a digital camera so it might take awhile.

Also, someone mentioned making a cover for the sand area so you don't get cats, etc using it for a bathroom ... a different idea is to have a piece of mesh (like the deer netting sold at garden supply stores) to cover the sand with when the kids aren't using it. Cats don't like getting their paws/claws caught in the mesh when they dig, so tend to stay out of the sand. You can pull it out and roll it up when your kids are using the sand area. Easier and cheaper than some other kind of cover and invisible when it's on the top of the sand -- it kind of sinks into the sand.


Here is a link that might be useful: Description of sand pond and other landscape ideas for kids garden

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 3:37PM
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Juhii1(z9 N. CA)

Thank you all for posting your answers. Shag, I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I just want to help create a place my children will be able to play and have an active imagination in. I think a sand pond would have to be a bit deeper then just 12 inches for my son, he wants to dig for treasure in it. I found a good spot for it in an area we just can't seem to find a use for. It's part of our side yard. I wnat to find a way to install a filtered drinking fountain out there so that the kids will be able to freely drink with out having to look for their cups. I got a place and pipe in with running water in the location I want the drinking fountain. How ever all ideas will have to just stay ideas till spring most likly as I am due with our 3rd child in 4 weeks and was just put on bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. The ideas some gave me at the landscape fourm was to just leave it dirt cause kids just love playing in the dirt, and one was to build a hill for them to roll down. Neither of which I can or will use. I want something fanciful full of imagination and just plain fun. We hired a gardner to place sprinklers and sod down for now so I don't have to keep mopping up mud everytime some one goes out side and to cut down on the amount of dust that blows in through every window that gets opened. DH had them leave a 2 1/2 -3 foot wide space between the fence and the sod for planter beds. I will be looking for a nice wooden swing set for the kids that has a hideaway place on it and a slide. Other then that I'm not sure. I will watch and see where it is full sun and where it is mostly shade so I can know where to plant the plants that some have suggested here. I found an area that gets full sun where we will plant most of our veggies and perrenials. I also have a flowerbed fountain that I will be putting in an area close to the kids stuff. DH is trying in all of his spare time to get my pond in the ground (I'll be lucky if it's in by spring). Anyways I'm going to spend the winter dreaming and planing and as soon as spring hits I'll start.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2002 at 1:49PM
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seemyflowers(z4 MN)

I know from experience that your little family can keep you on your toes. My kids are the ones that talked me into planting flowers for the first time this year. We started out with about ten flowers a piece; however we worked our way up to twice that much. My kids only helped when they were told they had to. When it comes to kids flowers I think simple ordinary flowers work the best for kids. That's my opinion anyway. Marigolds are a must for kids gardens they are the easiest ones to take care of. Best of luck I hope you and your kids enjoy your gardens.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 3:03PM
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Shag(z4 MT)

Colleen, sometimes bed rest can be a good thing -- if you can manage to STAY in bed with two young children around ;o) So use your rest time to dream to your heart's delight, of spring and summer and lying under a blue sky figuring out what kind of animals the clouds resemble ... you did say the idea of a hill to roll on would not be in your kids' garden plans, but I can't resist sending you this link anyway. It's SO fanciful. when I was a kid, I would have used this 'little hill' for all kinds of imaginings. It could even be a prehistoric telescope focused on just one star cluster.

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. Please tell us how things go with the birth after you're rested up enough.
Maureen (aka Shag)

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of Hill with Tunnels

    Bookmark   November 6, 2002 at 3:36PM
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Juhii1(z9 N. CA)

Well bed rest din't help. Our little Sahar was born 5 weeks early weighing in at 4 pounds 9 oz. And after almost a week in the hospital we are both finally home. I've never held such a small baby before. Thank goodness they grow fast. Thank you all for reading a posting here. I will keep everyone informed of what comes of our little garden.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2002 at 6:56PM
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Shag(z4 MT)

Congratulations Colleen on your new baby. And congrats to little Sahar for coming into the world! Wow! It must feel so good to be home now. Take it easy and enjoy. Do keep us informed, Colleen. It may be some time, though, eh?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2002 at 7:01PM
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beachcitymom(Southern CA)

Hi there -- don't know if you're still following this thread, but the best thing I ever did was put a baby swing on the swing set so all the kids could play while I gardened! I'd give the swing a push, then do my thing. My younger son could sit for several minutes at a time, just looking around and enjoying the fresh air. Even a tiny baby can hang out in a swing; just roll up those baby blankets and prop away.

My kids love flowering bushes, like daisies, camelias, etc., that they can cut and put in little vases. There's always color in our yard.

We had a giant dirt pit in our yard when we had one house. The previous owners had left a giant shed that was rusty and broken. We hauled it out, then framed the area with redwood ties, roto-tilled, and my son had the world's best time with his Tonka trucks! We even had a "construction" themed birthday party with 15 little boys playing in the pigpen. Occasionally we'd let our son and his friends run the hose back there and boy, did they ever muck around! Everyone knew to bring extra clothes for our house.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2003 at 4:05AM
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Hi everyone,
Just wanted to say that when I was a kid, we had forsythia bushes grouped together by the garage. My mother tried to kill them every spring but she had a green thumb.
We (all six of us) gradually made tunnels throughout them
and it was a great place to hide, be alone, listen to birds, get in trouble. We're all still here.
I know forsythia probably doesn't do well in zone 9 but
there might be other bushes that would take the abuse.
Also I would plant anything that attracts hummingbirds, bird, animals in general.
It's a place I've remembered for a long time.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 4:26PM
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I visited a potential client who had landscaped a berm under a tree that was at the edge of the property between a meadow and the house. He lamented that the kids had taken it over and the plants weren't doing well. My response would be: take it and run with it! It had apparently become a lookout tower, a small, kid-sized defined space that was wonderful to be the site of all kinds of imaginary goings-on. The kids could hide behind the berm and see what was going on in any direction, they could use the rocks on the berm as props for all kind of play, they could sit or stand on the rocks, they could put toy figures in the hollows beside the rocks -- the parents had unwittingly created an ideal play spot. How lucky that the kids found their own yard so tempting!

Little meandering pathways that only fit small bodies, secret hiding spots (that can be seen from the kitchen window!) with a large stone to sit on, and mysterious tweaks to the imagination are less expensive and if I were a kid, I would feel really lucky to have them.

I also tunneled under forsythia as a kid -- a very safe creation of a cave. We thought of it as a house, and one of my mother's elderly friends taught us that daisies made good fried eggs, and roses were tomatoes. She gave us a good recipe for mud pies, too (grin).

Even a small, shallow pool of water can attract insects that need a drink, birds for a bath, and animals.

Teepees can also be made of runner beans or other climbing plants if you have full sun.

Julie Moir Messervy's book, The Inward Garden, describes a number of key elements that seem to transcend time -- such as the cave, the peninsula, the (can't remember her term) overlook, and so on. I think that looking at this book and thinking about creating such features for kids would be an interesting spur to ideas.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2003 at 8:44AM
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robinwise(8 PNW)

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots - get it at your local library, that's my recommendation. GREAT TOPIC, thanks!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2003 at 12:23AM
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Briar_Brian(z5b OH)


Experience has taught me that my boys don't necessarily get excited by the same plantings I do. Here's a short list of what has piqued their interest:

1. Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' - Maiden Grass. Plant at least five bunches in the same area for a great 'hide & seek' area. Before my first boy was out of diapers, he would conceal himself in there to do "number 2." Dwarf Pampas grass would be a great alternative for your area.
2. Sedum "Autumn Joy." The flowers attract hordes of pollinating insects. Lots of bees and wasps, but they are so contentedly feeding that your children can inspect them very closely with very little fear of trouble.
3. Aromatic Herbs & mints. Experiment with smells.
4. Lamb's ears. Soft and cuddly as you-know-what.

BeachCityMom's idea of a baby swing is a must have. That's one idea that will do as much for you as for your baby.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2003 at 9:33AM
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butterbeanbaby(z5 MO)

Great list, "Grancie" Gardenspider! I'm printing it out. Everyone's idead sound really great.

I have plans for building Baylee her own garden this year and she got to pick the plants. So far we have moonflowers and hyacinth bean, four o'clocks and marigolds, sweet peas (because that's daddy's nickname for her", snap dragons and daisies. I plan to add brussels sprouts (not because I like them, blech, but they're pretty funny looking) and a few other things (things that she can pick the heck out of and have them come back LOL).

The plan goes like this. I'm going to create a baseball diamond type shape in the lower half of the backyard (near the intersection of all the other yards so I can keep her away from the street)... in the small front section goes a bright purple ladder where we will plant the beans and hook up her windchime... along both sides of the shape I'm going to put tires that I've painted different colors and plant stuff in those. In the inside of the shape we'll put down landscape cloth and pea gravel, a few pots of different things and her garden chairs. At the lower end of the garden, we're going to build her a "lath house" out of lattice and paint it either periwinkle or lavender. She is keen on the idea of having a place to have tea parties with her "babies". Also somewhere in there I plan on building a freestanding frame for her swing, as we have no trees big enough on our property to hang it from.

Now, if I just could find the time I need to do this, I'd be done!


    Bookmark   April 2, 2003 at 4:51PM
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TreeClimber16(z5 MI)

I very much agree with the recomendation of "Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots"

I bought if for my son when he was 10 he has now drifted away from it, but It's still one of my favorite gardening books.

Great ideas for anyone who is young or wants to get kids interested in gardening. I think adults will like it just as much as the kids.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2003 at 10:40AM
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storygardener(5/6 central oh)

Kids are now in college...but, YEARS ago we always made a pizza garden.... with tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil, oregano and anything else you can think of to put on a pizza. In the fall, we would make our own pizza sauce with our pizza garden tomatoes & added our garden veggies with the pepporoni. Kids LOVED it. They always showed their freinds the pizza garden.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2003 at 3:24PM
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Sue_Bee(z6 NE Mass)

Juhiil - If you haven't made a decision on this yet (and with a new baby lord knows this isn't your top priority) check out Better Homes & Gardens magazine (Feb or Apr '03 issue - I can't find it right now) for a great kids play area and garden combo. The family surrounded the swingset with really neat plants creating a fort/play space. They also created kid friendly water feature (read NO standing water/hazard). My six year son old thought it was the "coolest" and wanted to do something
similar in our yard.

Another great idea came from the HGTV show "Landscape Smart". I'm sure if you looked onthe site you could get info on the past episode. It featured a play structure with a digging area and more kid friendly/low maintance plants.

My own advice - whatever you do leave a little dirt. Kids just love to dig and if you leave an area bare they are less liekly to dig you flowers :)

Best of Luck - Suzanne
Best of luck

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 10:39AM
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muddy_hands(z10 S. Fl.)

Colleen, hope all is well with the new baby. I just stumbled on your post.

I've recently planted Lamb's Ears in my garden specifically so my daughter can touch them. I also have lots of stepping stones throughout my garden as my daughter loves hopping and skipping through them. A must for little girls are flowers you can pick. She wants nothing more than to pick all my flowers! We also have bird houses, feeders, bird baths and hummingbird feeders for some good bird watching. All these things we enjoy doing together. I also bought her some cute little veggie tales gardening gloves so she can dig in the dirt with me. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2003 at 11:48PM
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Grasses can be really sharp. I wouldn't say not to grow them but chance are one might get a nasty paper like cut. I have and I'm not even a kid. You think I'll ever learn.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2003 at 7:00PM
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joannd_CNY(z5 NY)

I agree with the "good smells" suggestion - mints (chocolate etc.), bee balm (which has fragrant leaves) etc. Also the lamb's ear is a favorite. There's also rose campion, very similar to lamb's ear but the flowers are bright pink.

How about a "snacking center"? My daughter's favorites are strawberries, cherry or grape tomatoes, edible-pod peas, and beans (she eats them raw). You can also find red-flowered beans that are very pretty - plant in a teepee for secret snacking.

For small fingers to pick, try a perennial geranium. Flowers just keep coming, and the kids can pick to their heart's content. Not for the vase, but just for the joy of picking.

another idea to work in: interesting plants such as money plant and chinese lanterns.

Lots and lots out there! I've just discovered this forum and am enjoying reading...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2003 at 12:59AM
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ginnytrcka(z5 CO)

Great thread! I have two boys--3 yr and 17 mo. They both love playing in the garden with me. We live close to the beach, so our soil is very sandy. For a while after we moved in we just had a big sandy pit where they loved playing with trucks, but I couldn't handle the sand constantly migrating indoors and having to change their clothes every time I wanted to take them out in public. We built a neat shuttle tower playground in the sand pit and surrounded it with foam playmats. No more dirt in the house. They get plenty of digging time helping in the garden beds and going to parks every day.

I agree with the suggestions for texture (lamb's ear, silver mound), scent (mints, herbs), and edibles. My kids help me cook by clipping chives, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These grow like crazy year round and no amount of clipping is going to hurt them...it just seems to make them healthier! My 3 yr old's favorite flower is still a dandelion, but my 17 mo. old will stop to smell every blooming flower around!

I would also suggest growing things that attract butterflies. We have had a great time watching caterpillars change. My 3 year old explains to everyone how they turn into chrysalids. We just snipped some off of my passion flowers and put them in a butterfly house so they can watch them change and I can control what the caterpillars eat!

One of the best things we put in our garden was a three seat cedar swing. My husband and/or I can swing and enjoy a cup of coffee or an iced drink while watching the kids play on the playground and experimenting in the garden. They run over and want to sit for a while to connect and then are off exploring the garden again.

Oh, about grasses...I love them and have found that my kids love purple fountain grass because the 'feathers' pull out easily and make great 'tickle bugs' and kitty toys. We saw some dwarf, sterile pampas grass at HD the other day and the kids loved the big soft plumes; it is kind of sharp, but we may try it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2003 at 12:04AM
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I'd make a Sunflower House! Easy to do, and fun for the kids to watch all summer long. Simply form a square, circle, or rectangle with your sunflower planting with an opening into the grassy middle. As the sunflowers grow they form the walls for the house. We also planted Heavenly Blue morning glorys to vine up the sunflower stalks. The flowers and hanging to dry right now, and we will save to seeds for next years house......There is a children's book "Sunflower House" by Eve Bunting that goes well with this project.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2003 at 8:47PM
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NewPenny(z8a-7b WA, USA)

Radishes grow verry quickly for instant gratification for edibles. For scent AND color try Pineapple sage. It realy smells like pineapple is good in stir frys easy to grow lovely soft largeish leaves AND it gets gorgeouse big red flowers. :-) Also it grows easely from cuttings. Guess that's all for now. Ohhh Hollyhocks, they do have itchy fuzzys but one of my favorite and very few memories of my grandma (she died when I was 5) was of making her Hollyhocks into dolls with ball gowns :-) You take a toothpick insert it into the green base of a 1/2 to fully opened hollyhock(depending on how full of a skirt you want you x "lady" to have) then you take a Hollyhock bud that is just starting to show it's petal color and insert the other end of the tookpick into it, this becomes the head of the doll. Then you swirl it throw the air as though it is dancing. :-)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 2:09PM
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I sure have enjoyed this thread! I also hope you and your little baby are okay. I had a little one too. She is 12 now, but for the first 3 months or so everything fell off her! She was too small for any clothes or anything on the market!The only thing I have to add to this is that I have a free standing swing set and mowing is a problem. I would plant a sturdy ground cover that does not attract bees. I am putting in a link to a site I found in another forum. You can do a search for your area and conditions and come up with one. I dont like gravel because it is hard to fall on and gets everywhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: groundcovers

    Bookmark   November 14, 2003 at 8:03AM
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peachiekean(z10A CA)

How about planting each child their own fruit tree? It's a good learning experience and it yields lots of great tasting fruit.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 12:45AM
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funkypuppy(z9 CA)

I'm currently designing/dreaming of a child's garden as well for my 5 year old and 20 month old. The best resource for ideas I've found so far is in Betty Peck's new book Kindergarten Education -- there's a great chapter on what to have in a garden for children and throughout the book she discusses the importance of nature and how she weaves gardening through much of the day with kindergarten children. Truly worth reading if you have kids and love gardening -- dont be put off by the somewhat dull-sounding title - the book is enchanting and has wonderful ideas.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 12:22AM
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Here are a few more ideas for anyone who is thinking about this:

cucumber fort: http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_structures_other/article/0,1785,HGTV_3639_3511529,00.html

tree houses/forts/ships/etc.: http://www.barbarabutler.com/treehouse.php
(isn't that canyon perch the coolest thing ever!!?)

And, my nephew has the coolest play area: it's a gravel pit--like a large sandbox, but filled with gravel instead. Then he has some of these toys mounted in it:



along with lots of trucks, front loaders, etc.

And here is a trolly that is very popular with my kids: http://www.leapsandboundscatalog.com/product/28185/219755/118.html (you need a soft place to land).

But their all time favorites: a box of chalk, a tire swing, jump ropes, skates and bikes, and a good quality bouncy ball. A fun childhood is as simple as that.

Here is a great link for outdoor toys:

Here is a link that might be useful: leaps and bounds catalog

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:22AM
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sorellina(z5/6 Toronto)

A picture is worth a thousand words, but unfortunately, my pictures are on my home PC, so a description of my 6 yr old son's garden will have to do.

I got him a book called "Great Gardens for Kids" for his 5th birthday because he was taking such an active interest in last year's garden. Over the LONG Toronto winter, he perused the book and we decided to make him his own potager with plants he'd pick out and grow himself. The potager consists of 4 raised beds (4'x4'x6") with a bean teepee in the middle. Here is what he decided to grow:

Bed 1: Whippersnapper dwarf determinate cherry tomato surrounded by Teddy Bear sunflowers and Gigante d'Italia basil.

Bed 2: Papaya Pear semi-dwarf summer squash surrounded by dwarf red nasturtiums.

Bed 3: Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, and Lunar White Carrots in diagonal rows with Chioggia, Cylindra, and Orange Beets with chives and catnip at the corners.

Bed 4: Purple Cauliflower, Purple Cabbage, and Bok Choi. He was hoping to get one of the Easter Bunny's "children" this year.

Bean Teepee: Scarlet Runner, Asian Long, and Yellow Annellino Beans, Sweet Peas.

The beans are now "filling out" the teepee so he'll have some secret playtime in his little hideaway. The beds were painted primary yellow and he decorated them with primary red and blue handprints. The root and brassica beds are partially shaded from a low-hanging tree, which provides a perfect area for decorations like a CD mobile and a red hanging lantern. He also has blue Christmas lights wound around a cross-brace in the bean teepee.

Very charming and quite inexpensive. He's put a bright red dragonfly on a stick (~2' high) in with his tomato and blue plastic flower spikes from IKEA in the other beds.

The best part is that HE waters, HE weeds, HE mulches after HE designed, HE sowed, and HE transplanted. So when HE harvests, HE gets to feel even better about the whole thing. Six years old is a great age for this kind of lesson because they so want to "do it myself" and feel like a big kid. He gets to make mistakes and learn from them. I'm not sure spending $$ on camp can really teach that the same way.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 11:59AM
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Definitely include a swing in the shade for you and the baby! How about a kid-sized picnic table? Our favorite yards as kids were always those that included some sort of fort. Hedges with hiding places. And if you don't ahve any shade, get those trees in the ground! Also, most kids love sitting or playing under an arbor.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 2:19PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Weeping crabapples. I was on a garden tour and someone had a weeping crabapple that had a perfect kid-sized hiding space under all those weeping brances. It was only 8 years old, but quite large; it had filled in so fast. I just planted one for my kids.

Also read about squirting cucumber. If you touch it when ripe it explodes wet pulpy seeds onto your hand. I think kids would love it, I just need to order some seeds.

Next year I'm doing a kids garden and edging it with little pairs of kids shoes. That should be cute.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 7:48AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Spunky MA, those websites were great!!! The forts, the ride-on loader, those are very cool, thanks for giving me the website.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 6:57AM
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rroberts(5 Mich)

Yesterday I was at a meeting about Children's Gardens. This quote was used "Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles,frogs, mudturtles, elderberris, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets, any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." Luther Burbank 1920

Best wishes with your yard for the children and Merry Christmas at this time of the year.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 9:01AM
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If I could start fresh and had nothing but dirt, I would put in mint! Why plant grass? I would start with mints of all kinds! they make great ground covers, smell great, and wouldn't the kids smell great after rolling around in spearmint, chocolate mint, orange mint, peppermint, etc.? no mowing, it spreads well it's edible, and the smell is wonderful! then when you want to add other plants it's very easy to go out and select and area, harvest out throw up a border and plant! Just my humble opinion, but oh what a dream that would be for me! LOL!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 4:04PM
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My first garden was the summer of my son's first year, he was young so i wanted him to be able to play while i worked in the garden. I put up a bean tee-pee, put some trucks and cars inside and he loved it. With a ready-made snack like fresh green beans you can't go wrong. He liked it so much that i've done it every year since, the tee-pee gets a bit more elaborate every year, last year i made a sort of awning on the front entrance, and an exit out the back for fun and games. This year i think i'll add a tunnel either to the front or back of out tee-pee. I even put in his little adirondack chair so he could sit inside and relax in the shade. I planted marigolds on either side of the entrance for a more inviting look. I've found that having a separate garden for your kids is nice, but not really necessary, as long as you don't mind the occasional picking of your tomatoes, green peppers, and what nots. It's so great to see my son running across the yard eating a fresh tomato straight from the garden, i don't even have to go inside to get him a snack, they're right there for the picking!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 9:50AM
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lori4557(5a MI)

This year I'm planning on growing a 12'x12" sunflower and morning glory house with a tunnel of gourds leading to a truck sandpit. I have made windows in the house by using old shutters that I have mounted on a wood frame with stakes attached to the bottom to drive into the ground.
I think I may even try to add "window boxes". I think my 3yo son will really like the tunnel of gourds. I can't wait to see his reaction when the start hanging down. : )

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 2:47PM
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Juhii1(z9 N. CA)

Wow I had no idea when I started this post 3 years ago that I would still be getting responses. My DD is now 3 and while still small she is thriving. I wish I could say the same for my garden. It becomes difficult to do any gardening (at least the type I wanted) with little to no money. As these projects are not high on the priority list for my DH it has become my deal. I have also added to our family this year with a wonderful DS and now am done with having the babies and only raising them now, LOL. Dh has only this summer taken any interest in the back yard. Last summer I spent money and time in trying to fix it with many different projects. I put in a flower bed and we planted mosly annuals, (mostly empty this summer) I got everything I thought I needed to start redoing my pond as I no longer like where it is got a positive pregnancy test and put it on hold. I had planted some calandula which was doing so well, now it has been taken over by crab grass. I put in a boat shaped sandbox ( forgot to put the lid on and now have to get new sand as a kitty has decided I made a great litterbox), we planted carots and they were yum. Planted a "piece of heaven" loved it went on vacation and neighbor killed it. Haven't seen one since. Veggie garden last year no energy this year. Have a Little tykes slide now really want a swing set, but may have to give up on that. Oh well, coming back here after a long break from the internet has renewed my interest in my backyard and I will be tackling it little by little.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 4:43AM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

I am surprised that no one has mentioned that foxgloves are very toxic and can kill you if you eat too much of it. ( mentioned in your very first post ) The botanical name is Digitalis and we also get our lifesaving heart medicine Digitalis from it. An oxymoron I know lol but its like giving you a vaccination with a small amount of measles in it to prevent you from getting measles etc. It all depends on the amount of the dosage and the form that it is in. I am glad to see that your children dont eat them!! lol

'The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow'

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 1:15PM
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celeste75(Z 5 NY)

An area boyscout is doing his eagle project in back of where I work. It will be a park/garden. There will be several pie shaped pieces for gardening when he gets finished with the sidewalks. We are planting a salsa garden, a hummingbird/butterfly garden, a songbird garden and best of all an animal/zoo garden where all the plants are named after animals....lamb's ear, wormwood, horseradish, cardinal flower, canary vine, bat face cuphea, hen's and chickens, oriole zinnia, polar bear zinnia, zebra hollyhock, and too many more to name. Can't wait!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 8:10PM
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dufflebag2002(Calif. 91607)

Any one living near the Huntington Gardens be sure to visit the new Childrens Garden. They have a large cement bowl of sand that has a lot of iron ore inside, beach sand has Iron ore. They also have a large magnet to gather it up. Children can play with this by the hour. They have a pebble stream, a fog forest. A TeePee make believe, fake Ravens sitting on the bench, I rainbow tunnel, many other clever things for children to explore. Visit and it will give you some great ideas. I wish I could come and help you with your garden. Use a lot of bushes with texture. Pansy's for color, miniature persimmons, miniature Peaches to be picked. Bean Poles shaped like a TeePee for the beans to climb, and Tomato cages to keep them off the ground, the more you plant up, the more room you will have, peas climb up, Japanese egg plant takes little room, and you can eat them. Stubby carrots are great tiny and grow in poor soil and pots. My children's garden was all in pots set in space on the driveway that wasn't used for other things, miniature tomatoes in 3 gal containers and Luffa sponge in 5 gal. clay pots. A row of pot for herbs, I had a weeping willow bottle brush tree, hummingbirds just loved visiting. Miniature squash, which grows fast in a five gallon glay container, and up a tomato cage, and the old standby a row of radishes with germinates in three days. Have the childen make a scarecrow with your help of course. I started growing food at four and a half. Be sure to tuck in some parsley and rosemary for you. A large tall Sunflower plant, one is plenty and grows tall about (8ft). It will attract birds. Gourds, grow up and make a fine trellis plant for a lath house. Just ideas, Norma

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 1:18AM
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careytearose(z9 NoCal)

We're creating a children's garden this year, so this has been a great thread to read. We're rose freaks here (112 at this time). When we started out with roses in 2003, we took the kids to the Petaluma Rose Co. and told the kids (then 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 that they could pick out any rose that struck their fancy, it would be "their" rose. We planted them in a front raised bed that their bedroom windows face. Each was planted so that they can look out their window and see their rose. Our son chose "Sutter's Gold" and each year he has enjoyed sharing his rose with his teacher at school.

I recently discovered this amazing rose at Roses of Yesterday and Today in Watsonville, called R. banksiae normalis. What a fabulous looking plant! A single white species rose that smells like violets and is thornless. It grows 20 to 30 feet wide. I want to site it so that it will grow into a bower that they can hide and play under.

I would include at least a thornless rose or two that you don't spray so the children can eat the petals.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 11:05PM
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I'm looking for ideas, as I'm planning a children's garden for my nieces and nephews to use, when they visit. I know some of these posts are pretty old. Have you made any changes in the last few years? Does anyone have pictures of their gardens?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:39AM
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When I was a kid, I really liked snapdragons. I loved to pinch the sides of the flower and make the "mouth" open. We had a little flower bed near the driveway that we would plant annuals in each year around mothers day. It was a treat to take that annual trip to the store and pick out flowers. We always got some snapdragons.

I was also fascinated with the neighbors big white hydrangea bush, because the flowers seemed as big as my head.

We had a maple tree and I loved to toss the seeds into the air and watch them whirl to the ground like a helicopter. I loved playing with the fuzzy seed balls from the sycamore tree. I liked to pluck the little seeds from the ball.

Another favorite was the mulberry bush, but I'm sure any fruit or veggie would make a kid happy if it was one they liked.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 7:46PM
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