We are lucky enough to have a garden in London, and we know not everyone will be so fortunate. But hopefully there’ll be some ideas for everyone in this post, whether you have a field, a 2metre square plot or just a windowsill.
When I first started ‘gardening’ with Archie Bear, I was a little too enthusiastic and my expectations were WAY too high. I expected him to have the patience to dig a hole, plant a seed/plant, water it, and then wait for something to happen. Sometimes nothing happens. For a long time.
So the first thing I’d recommend is to foster an interest and a love of plants and different flowers that you see when you’re out and about. Most people with toddlers I know spend about half of their waking time in a park or playground, where there are different kinds of trees, plants and flowers. Even weeds are exciting to toddlers, especially dandelions. They’re bright, so are eye catching and exciting for them, and they are free to pick as many as they want (send them round to my garden please!!). And of course when the flowers have died and you’re left with round little balls of floaty seeds, they love picking them and blowing them away.
Spring flowers to look out for-
- Snowdrops – always the first to show their faces in the new year, and are a sign of what’s to come. They are close to the ground so get right down there with your toddler and see them close up.
- Crocuses – normally the next ones up and about, and a real promise of spring! They come in lots of different colours so have fun spotting them all and naming all those purple, yellow and white ones.
- Daffodils – Archie Bear loved seeing the daffodils, and he spotted there were more than just yellow ones. White ones, yellow ones, orange ones, all different sizes and with different coloured trumpets too! You can normally buy a bunch for £1 which haven’t opened yet. These are perfect for watching open in a vase or glass at home as they change a bit more every day.
- Bluebells – a magical one to go and look for in the woods if you can get there, they cover the floor like a carpet and make it purple.
- Hyacinths – these bright, bold, smelly flowers are perfect for growing in pots and are super cheap. All you need are 4/5 bulbs (25p each from our local flower shop) a pot, and a small bag of compost. Just plant them and wait.
- Tulips – easy to grow from bulbs and cheap in bouquets when they’re in bloom, these are lovely for kids to colour spot and are very recognisable. You can get stripy ones, feathery ones, all sorts these days!
- Roses – these start blooming from April onwards and just keep going all through summer and into autumn. They are very popular flowers for front gardens, so see how many different colours and sizes you can spot as you walk around your neighbourhood (careful of the thorns!)
- Fuschia – one of our favourites, and another popular one for front gardens it seems. They are everywhere, and their upside down pink and white flowers are distinctive enough for any toddler to recognise.
- Sweet Peas – these come in so many different colours, and if you grow them at home you can watch them as they climb up their supports, winding their thin, green little fingers around and around. The flowers open slowly so are a lovely one to go and check on every morning to see how they’re doing. You can grow from seed, or buy seedlings to give you a head start.
- Horse chestnut trees – might seem like an odd one, but if you have little kids it’s important to know where these trees are for conker season! Their flowers are pink or white, and look like cones of blossom, all over the tree. Once they know which are conker trees, they’ll know where to go to get their conker stash in October!
- Peonies – these are like flower bombs that start off as round balls, full to bursting with hundreds of petals, all squished in together. Truly magical to watch as they open.
Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, keep your eyes open as you walk around and remember, Google is a wonderful resource for knowledge-thirsty toddlers, so get googling when you see a flower you don’t know. I found these great A5 cards in a gift shop recently and they’ve been really useful at spotting different trees and herbs.
Look out for the next post on gardening with toddlers. I’ll give you ideas for easy and fun plants and flowers to grow together, whatever space you have! Now go get your sunglasses and your sun cream, and get out there!