Magical Gardens for Children

Gardens are always great places for children to play, provided you make them a bit 'child-friendly' and you are aware of the potential for danger of poisonous plants and garden ponds. Sandpits are, of course, guaranteed to give them hours and hours of pleasure, but there are other ways to make the garden attractive for your children and grandchildren.

Home and Garden
A Wendy House in the garden is fantastic, but it is even more realistic when it has its own little garden and gate! Surround the house with a narrow strip of grass and some Daisies to serve as a mini lawn or you could lay a gravel path. Fit window boxes with, perhaps, hanging Strawberries or long-flowering blue Scabiosa, and make a narrow border with large, brightly coloured or tall flowers. Spring flowering bulbs like Tulips, Narcissi and Hyacinths would be great, as would Delphiniums, Dahlias and Gladioli. Of course, this ideal garden would also need a mini-fruit tree (apple or cherry for instance), and a Buxus hedge around it would really give it credibility.

Who is Nibbling at my House?
If you have a small garden, in which a Wendy House would probably take up too much space, how about simply placing a house front against the fence. A 'Hansel and Gretel' witches house, brightly painted with coloured sweets all over it and biscuits on the roof would be marvellous. You could give it window boxes with Strawberries and an espalier of Kiwi, Apple or Cherry against the walls, to turn it into a very tasty little house. Conifers on either side of the house and some ferns along the front would make it look as if the house really was deep in the forest. And on the doorstep you would place, of course, the witch's broom!

Sleeping Beauty
Make a trellis for your Roses in the shape of a castle. A magical pink climbing Rose, like 'New Dawn', growing all over the castle would be wonderful. Alternatively, 'Spanish Flag', a climber with yellow as well as red flowers would also be great. But maybe the combination of the deep red rose 'Paul's Scarlet' and the blue Clematis Jackmannii is the most beautiful one with which to smother the bewitched castle of Sleeping Beauty.

The Land of Oz
Although made in 1939, the film 'The Wizard of Oz' is still extremely popular, so many children will like this idea. Create a windy yellow brick road flanked by two broad strips of Poppies (Papaver Orientale, Türkenlouis mixed with sown poppies). In a shady garden you can use Astilbe instead. Plant an Apple tree and make the Straw Man, the Tin Man and the Lion, with the help of children! The 'Land of Oz' theme would be excellent for a small front garden.

The Giant's Garden
With small children, a Giant's Garden will be a huge success. This is a garden to make you feel tiny - and it really does not have to take up a lot of space to be most effective. Create a path that is quite narrow and plant large plants and flowers on either side. Sunflowers (the tallest ones), large-flowered Dahlias, Ornamental Onions, Hollyhocks and Amaryllis are good ideas. Large foliage plants also enhance the effect, like Hosta, Banana plants, Fatsia, Indian Bean Tree, but also Rhubarb, Courgette, Giant Pumpkins and Sweetcorn. The large Strawberries of Gigantella Maxim fill a little hand, as do the enormous 'Champion' Plum (both available from our us) so the children can have a giant snack as they wander around. In the local supermarket I came across a very large plastic snail that would feel very much at home in this garden!

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