Having a gardening party
Planting can make a brilliant party activity if your little-one has a summer birthday. Turn the kids out into the garden with some pots and compost, give them a quick demo and leave them to get on with it. At this time of year, you can often pick up cheap-and-cheerful late season bedding plants from nurseries and garden centres. They may be a bit leggy, but they€™ll be in full flower and even clumsy planting will result in an impressive display. Planted pots are a great party bag substitute, so you won€™t need to bother with all that plastic tat. Get some labels to avoid arguments and tears over which gardening creation belongs to which child at going-home time. If you throw in a few coloured pens and stickers, you might even get away with label and pot decorating as a warm-up activity before the planting starts. It€™s probably a good idea to provide a couple of pairs of kid-sized gardening gloves in case any of them Don't like getting dirty. And make sure they all wash their hands, especially before they tuck into the party food €“ compost is teeming with bacteria. If your child doesn€™t have a summer birthday but you€™d still like a planting party, one of these ideas might grab you: September-November this is the ideal time for planting bulbs. Try one hyacinth per child in a 15cm pot, or a handful of crocus bulbs (encourage them to plant bulbs €˜pointy-side-up€™). December-March sweet peas do well from a winter sowing. If you have time, soak the seeds in water overnight before the party as it can help them to germinate. April-May you€™re spoilt for choice with seed sowing in early spring €“ try sunflowers, clarkia, cosmos, nasturtiums or quick-and-easy veg like peas and runner beans. If you€™re really organised, you could send the children home with tips to help them (and their parents) keep their plants alive. A little root around the RHS website will uncover gems like this child-friendly advice for growing sweet peas. Happy growing! You can find out more about Mary and her garden at www.brookendcottagegarden.com.