It has long been suspected that gardening is an excellent way to relax and it is becoming clear that spending time in the garden has a measurable positive impact on health and wellbeing.
A survey last year by Vienna’s Centre for Public Health confirmed this theory, with respondents revealing that spending time in their gardens had a positive impact on their health. Learning how to garden also really benefits children, which explains why so many schools have eco and gardening clubs.
Children really love to get their hands dirty, with learning about plant life cycles an important part of the curriculum. Digging, planting, watering and watching a plant grow really engages their imagination and children are often much keener to try the fruits – or vegetables – of their labour.
Working in the garden or the greenhouse also encourages a closer link with their environment and nature and an awareness of weather patterns and the changes of the seasons.
Having time together in the garden is also a fantastic way to spend time with your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren. A nice way to get them involved is to allocate a patch of your garden to them, or perhaps a shelf in your greenhouse.
Planting seeds and watching them germinate and grow into seedlings is fascinating for children and teaches them one of the first rules of gardening: patience! With this in mind, opt for plants that grow quickly, such as calendula and sunflowers. If you want something edible other than mustard cress, radishes progress from sowing to ready-to-pick in around a month.
If you are in any doubt, pop along to your nearest garden centre or nursery. Many of the seed companies produce ranges specifically for children and you will also be able to find child-sized gloves, trowels, forks and spades for toddlers and younger children; however, children from around seven years old should be able to manage with adult-sized hand-held equipment.
Once you have them hooked on the basics, you can move on to more advanced techniques. A small greenhouse, if you have the space, will enable you and your children to sow and propagate all year round and provide a cosy, dry space during inclement weather.
A greenhouse also enables you to grow more exotic plants, which will fascinate children. Imagine the thrill of growing their own oranges, lemons, peaches, kiwi fruit or melons!
At Gabriel Ash, we have worked with the RHS to come up with the Budding Gardeners children’s greenhouse, which is built to the same high standards as our other green and glasshouses. Constructed from western red cedar, it is a compact 1.2m by 1.6m, which should fit in most gardens. As an added safety measure, safety glass is included as standard.