Saturday, February 11, 2012

How Changing Our Garden Was the Best Thing for our Family

How Changing Our Garden Was the Best Thing for our Family

Pre-baby, I was very very proud of my gardening. My lawn was manicured, with pretty neat flowerbeds with beautiful plants (including some “danger” plants such as foxgloves and berberis).

I had a pretty water feature and a couple of small modern, abstract statues balanced precariously on the edges of paths. It was beautiful, and controlled and oh so grown up.

The first changes started when baby came and I didn’t have time to be trimming borders and deadheading shrubs – that really was the least of my worries! The little one was born in late October so I didn’t really care either, the garden wasn’t somewhere I wanted to be and I totally lost interest. The following spring and summer I did a few basic things, token gestures to stop it becoming a complete mess, but I’d started to resent it a little with its reminders of a former life in which I had time to be obsessive over what size the plants were and whether the colours matched.

Then for mini-me’s first birthday, hubby’s side of the family clubbed together to buy her a wooden climbing frame. She wasn’t big enough to fully use it – it was more a case of us sitting her at the top of the slide and pulling her down it, but I knew she’d grow into it, and over time I began to see how silly I’d been to neglect my garden, I needed to share it with her.

I took out although unsuitable, un-child friendly plants and planted a lot of big, colourful shrubs which needed little tending. I planted a little herb garden and when she could toddle enough I showed her how to pick basil and mint leaves, letting her smell them and see me put them straight into food. I replaced the water feature with a little sandbox, and got rid of the stupid pretentious statues. Putting up a wind chime gave the garden an amazing sensory dimension which she loves – and I love too. Being out there while she’s playing is a joy. Letting the lawn grow a little bit means that it’s got dandelions and other little wildflowers in it which makes it look so much prettier but also encourages butterflies and bumble bees, which she finds fascinating! (although it does mean I make her wear shoes a lot. Oh well.)

The best thing though is that now she’s old enough to use a little spade we’ve started planting things together. As well as playing on her climbing frame and on the grass she’s able to learn about nature, how to nurture and care for things and the wonder of seeing something grow and develop. It’s teaching her patience and, I think, empathy.

Katy is a blogger with a keen interest in tips and tricks for parents, and the power that blogging and social networking has in bringing parents together and sharing knowledge.


Declan Cash's Mom said...

That's very smart. We moved into our home when I was pregnant with my son. I thought I could put him in the jumperoo on the porch while I worked on the yard. Not the case. And the previous owners had no landscaping of any kind and vast piles of rocks everywhere. Needless to say, it has taken us a few years to get some semblance of landscaping going. And now we have another baby. Maybe this year we can get a little bit more done and incorporate my 5 year old as a garden helper.


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