Sunday, May 31, 2009

Easy (and Successful) Children's Gardening Events

It seems like many organizations, businesses and clubs want to sponsor a children's gardening event, but struggle with the details to make it happen. Here are two simple solutions from recent events that I attended. One event was at a retail nursery and the other was a local Mom's Club Meeting. At each event, the children and parents planted an annual flower, vegetable, or seeds. One event used 6 inch terra cotta pots decorated by the child (shown above). The Moms Club Meeting used 4 and 6 inch plastic containers left over from some of my other gardening projects. Even a plastic container can be decorated. Rustoleum makes a spray paint for outdoor plastics. If you're on a tight budget, you could spray paint inexpensive pots beforehand then have the kids decorate with foam stickers from a craft store. There are hundreds of fun ways for kids to decorate a pot, whether it's painted, decoupaged, or tile mosaics but since these events were specifically designed to get kids gardening, less emphasis was placed on the container. Last year, we had the kids paint their terra cotta pots but this year we opted for self-adhesive foam stickers. This decision was to simplify the project, place more emphasis on the planting process, and create fewer headaches for parents that weren't anticipating their children to be painting that day (nothing makes a mommy more angry than paint all over an expensive outfit).

After the containers are decorated and personalized, the children chose their plant (one cell of a six-pack or 4 inch pansy, veggie, or other annual). Potting soil was put into a large, somewhat shallow plastic storage bin (like those used for under bed storage). This allows easy access for several children at one time and seems to reduce the amount of mess. Kids can put their pot right into the bin to fill, or next to it, for easy clean-up. At the Mom's Club meeting, we put the bin directly onto the floor for very young participants (18 month to 3 year olds) and that seemed to work great.

After they put some soil into the pot, an adult assisted putting the plant in and then the children finished adding more soil. At both events, we did not have the children water their plants to minimize the mess but advised them to water them when they got home.

Other things to consider during any children's gardening event is to have your staff explain what type of plant they are planting, the plant's name, and general care and watering instructions. Most kids (and some parents) don't realize that the plant might need direct sunlight and regular watering. Use this opportunity to teach while the kids are playing in the dirt and having fun.


  1. Just found your blog and I love it. I agree that Winterthur has an excellent children's garden. Longwood also has a fabulous children's garden that is centered around water and is in one of there conservatories. It isn't far from Winterthur.If you are interested in photographs of this garden or the Winterthur garden, Let me know. I'm happy to share.

  2. I love your blog! You have great ideas. Gardening with kids is one of my passions. I have written several posts about it on my blog. :)

  3. You're so sweet! I'm planning to resurrect this blog soon. Apparantly I was too busy in the garden to get back to the computer this past season. I'm going to check out your blog next. Thanks for leaving a note.

  4. You may be interested in my blog and website devoted to school gardens. If so try: &

  5. Dear Cindee,
    I would LOVE to post some of your photographs from Winterthur or Longwood's Children's garden. I think it would be great to share on this blog any pictures of kids enjoying gardening and the awesome public/private gardens we visit. If you get a chance, please forward your favorites to me and any comments or descriptions you'd like me to add. I'll certainly give you credit : )