Sunday, June 1, 2008

Kid-friendly gardens

I have a two-foot deep hole in my garden - the product of many hours of labor - that my daughter solemnly assures me is the way she and her friends are going to get to China (I don't know who first suggested to digging to China, since I doubt any of her friends could find the place on a map, but there you have it). Apparently, if you would like to make your yard and garden kid-friendly, sometimes the solution can be something as simple as giving them a patch of dirt to dig.
This is the message of our new book A Child's Garden: 60 ideas to make any garden come alive for children, by Molly Dannenmaier. She presents examples from around the world of interesting things you can do with your yard. Some of these are fairly elaborate - constructing tiny waterfalls, building treehouses, installing slides on your deck - but some of the ideas are so simple and easy you wonder that they hadn't already occurred to you. A big box of pine cones, hidey-holes made by plants (honeysuckle would work well in this climate), child-height peepholes in fences, their own little garden patch to water, even a pile of gravel to play with. Dannenmaier groups her suggestions by theme: water, creatures, dirt, refuges, heights, movement, make-believe, nurture, and learning. The nicest thing about this book is that it points out how inherently creative children are, and how much they love to explore. Grownups have a tendency to forget how easily entertained kids can be. You don't need a backhoe and a construction crew to make your garden fun for kids - you just need to give them a little room to play.

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