little research will provide lots of ideas for plants used to
make dyes, such as brown-eyed Susan, calendula, false indigo,
and sunflower. Kids can paint garden stakes the appropriate color
to mark each plant's row or patch, and then delight in dyeing
yarn, cloth, or even eggs by creating dyes from the plants they've
can focus on culinary herbs or medicinal herbs or pick a period
of history and choose herbs that were important during that period.
Kids can have fun uncovering information on the ways herbs have
been used historically. For example, during the Middle Ages some
herbs, such as lavender, rosemary, and chamomile, were used to
mask the odors of spoiled food, poor hygiene, and tooth decay.
Kids will undoubtedly discover some plants they just have to try
growing and using.
ahead for your local Fourth of July celebration, and you'll be
properly decorated. You may even have a float for the town parade
if you plant your garden in a mobile little red wagon. Let red,
white, and blue flowers abound. Include a sweet alyssum border,
geraniums, lobelia, cosmos, begonias, and impatiens. For the finishing
touch, add American flags to the mix.
of the best known Native American garden techniques is the interplanting
of corn, beans, and squash--a trio considered by the Iroquois
Indians of the East as "The Three Sisters." To plant a typical
Three Sisters system, make slightly raised areas (hills) about
12 inches high and 18 inches in diameter 3 to 4 feet apart in
all directions. In each hill, plant half a dozen soaked corn seeds
in a small circle. As corn plants begin to grow, weed gently,
mounding soil up around the plants. When the corn is about 6 inches
high, plant 4 to 6 seeds of pole beans around the circle. Then
plant 4 or 5 pumpkin or squash seeds either in every seventh hill,
or plant a couple of seeds if you have just one hill. (If you
plant too many, they'll overwhelm the other crops.)
vines up a rocket fashioned out of bamboo canes. Hang some handmade
stars and planets from the canes and think cosmic when it comes
to plants: cosmos, of course, rocket flowers, moonflowers, and
'Moon and Stars' watermelon.
wheat, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and more in wedge-shaped
patches so together they form a giant pizza.
can grow a blooming rainbow by planting curved rows of different-colored
flowers. For the best effect, use plants that have similar heights.
plants that appeal to the senses. Textured plants are irresistible.
If your conditions are right for them, include the fuzzy woolly
thyme and lambs' ears, the prickly coneflower and strawflower,
and the delicate maidenhair fern and columbine. Fragrant plants
transport the imagination. If you grow them now, your child will
always remember the scents of heliotrope, mignonette, roses, peonies,
and lilacs. If you show them which plants to rub between their
fingers, they'll never forget lavender, pineapple mint, lemon
balm, rosemary, basil, and scented geraniums.
sunflowers by planting several varieties and sizes. Cut up seed
catalogs to visually plan the garden. This garden will turn into
a bird-feeding haven in the fall, so you can play that up by including
a bird bath, fun bird ornaments, and birdhouses.
catalogs for "chocolate" varieties of plants--usually those with
a scent slightly reminiscent of the sweet stuff. Sometimes chocolate
is just in the name. Group 'Chocolate Veil' huechera, 'Chocolate
Soldiers' columbine, chocolate cosmos, chocolate-mint scented
geranium, and chocolate mint. Don't forget to mulch with cocoa
beans. And remind kids that not all that smells like chocolate
is actually edible.
once came upon a small tea garden featuring 10 plants surrounding--what
else?--a large old teakettle. Try planting German chamomile, calendula,
lemon verbena, peppermint, alpine strawberries, bronze fennel,
dwarf German sage, lemongrass, anise hyssop, and lemon balm. Install
a bench and table, and let your little ones host a garden tea
Q and A
What are some easy-to-grow annuals of different colors that we
could plant in our rainbow garden?
A. Here are
some flower choices for the different colors of the rainbow.
ageratum, nierembergia, salvia, China aster, cornflower, and lobelia.
(Many other so-called blue flowers are actually purple, so choose
scarlet salvia, zinnia, and snapdragon.
petunia and verbena.
Yellow: gloriosa daisies,
snapdragons, zinnias, and marigolds.
White: nicotiana, petunia, cosmos, cleome, and sweet alyssum.
Green: 'Envy' zinnia and Bells
snapdragon, cleome, petunia, nicotiana, cosmos, and zinnia.
Orange: marigold, zinnia,
cosmos, and tithonia.