It’s about time I mentioned my obsession, the one that fills my Instagram. They say write what you know, and what I know is that I am happiest in my garden with my toddle kid. Gardening with him is heaven. It’s my creative outlet, it earths me quite literally and because there’s always a job to do, it never leaves me feeling bored.
We’re lucky enough and old enough to have been able to buy a house in London that had a front and backyard and so my dormant life-long love of gardening was able to, ahem, blossom.
I’ve planted out the decrepit front and back yards (before and after shots of the front yard project below) with Piet Udolf-inspired planting, Dadspo has developed his veg patch (which I’ll gladly take credit for should anyone ask). I’m growing my own perrenials from seed, propagating easy plants like herbs, geraniums/pelargoniums and succulents. I’m even growing so much each year that I’m able to give away cuttings, seedlings and plants I’m a bit over.
Buying plants is like a healthy form of retail therapy, I’m sure. A weekend without buying a plant is an empty one. The hydrangea limelight below was a bargain from the Catford Broadway market, and was a hot tip from my fellow local gardening nut Hayley. Plant pushers like Hayley are also great to collect, because a wide range of plants sources and a constant fix is what you need when the obsession gets going.
Inspiration for your garden is everywhere. Shows like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are packed with ideas, as are the open garden scheme which is also good for a nosey around other peoples’ places. I buy unusual plants at the semi-annual Great Dixter plant fair in East Sussex and the homegrown offerings at the NGS open garden scheme are good for that too. If you’re near to Columbia Road flower market that’s always good for bargains – you can often
Online shopping can top trump local garden centres, which might seem a bit weird. Sarah Raven‘s mail-order plug plants are quite reliable and are a very up-to-date edit of gardening trends. In my experience some local garden centres seem somewhat out of touch in their knowledge and selections, not withstanding the occasional surprise.
And so to the bit about toddlers. All this dirt fiddling is great when you’re at home with a baby because it’s within earshot of cries, it’s non-toxic (if you stay organic), it can be cheap and you can grow your own food for weening. My little Chips spent his first year chomping our own raspberries and tomatoes.
If your babe doesn’t yet crawl, they can spend time on a rug with their toys and you nearby. If they’re asleep you get a few minutes in the garden to yourself away from the little angel. Plus, when that baby grows into a curious toddler, you can involve them in their own version of gardening, and I’ve got a list of easy toddler gardening activities below.
Easy gardening ideas to get started:
- Get some raspberry canes in. They seem impossible to kill and will feed you a punnet a day over summer. That’s £5 more you can spend on gin.
- If you only have window sills to work with, think big and plant window boxes along the lines of a favourite garden. They don’t have to just be filled with bedding plants. Just remember to keep them fed and watered. I like a liquid seaweed feed.
- Look around your neighbourhood. Anything that seems to be thriving will do well in your garden. I’ve seen valerian, meadow rue and Aunt May doing well and they thrive in my garden.
- Don’t spend tonnes of succulents, as vogue as they are. They’re so easy to propagate. Pinch of single leaves or baby growth, plant and you’ll have a whole new plant for free.
- Geraniums and pelargoniums have to be the easiest thing I’ve ever propagated. Buy a couple of colour pots you like and take cuttings, leave them in a glass of water til you see roots and pop into a pot of potting mix. You’ll soon have tonnes of colour.
Toddler gardening ideas:
- Raid the spice cupboard and plant some seeds like Fenugreek. Encourage them to water the seeds and watch them grow.
- Old flower pots are an amazingly popular, and free, toy.
- Get a sand pit so they can “pot up” their own seedlings while you’re doing yours with a little spade from their seaside toy kit if you have one.
- Buy some potted herbs from the supermarket can be divided up and grown on outside in summer. Give the titch their own pot of herbs to take care of and watch the pride soar.
- Chips loves holding a punnet while we collect raspberries and strawberries, which soon becomes a counting game.
As promised, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a few shots of the progress of the front yard project which turned a field of asphalt into a wild garden and parking space.
Do you have a gardening project to share? Tell us all about it below.