Memories are made of this

Hannah Stephenson looks at how PlantforLife can help to produce a whole new generation of gardeners.

Hannah Stephenson looks at how PlantforLife can help to produce a whole new generation of gardeners.

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Do you remember how you became interested in gardening? Was it helping an elderly relative on their vegetable patch or picking fresh fruit, planting a seed and watching it grow or messing around with insects?

As the school holidays approach, the PlantforLife campaign has published a definitive list of "must have" childhood garden activities that highlight what parents can do to create positive planting experiences for their kids, inspired by their own schoolday memories.

From making a den in the bushes to looking for creepy crawlies in the garden, the list of 12 garden experiences is the result of feedback from a panel of celebrity gardeners including Chris Collins, Kim Wilde, Joe Swift, David Domoney and Robbie Honey plus feedback from 1,200 parents.

Top garden experiences include picking strawberries or other fruits, building a tree house and picking flowers and pressing them.

Robbie Honey says: "Apart from using the pressed flowers to make little keepsakes and presents, it can also help teach your child the anatomy of a flower.

"While collecting flowers for pressing you can point out the different parts of a flower and explain to your children how pollination works."

As well as building fun things like treehouses, creating a garden plot and watching it grow can be just as much fun, says Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins.

"It allows children to watch the progress of something they've created and gives them a sense of achievement and responsibility. They are more likely to care for something they've created themselves," he says.

Kim Wilde and her children have great fun looking for creepy crawlies under rocks and stones.

"Children can be taught to see the beauty in such natural things, as well as begin to appreciate how important wildlife is to a healthy garden. Our gardens can become a place of refuge for our threatened wildlife, and the children can gradually learn how important these creatures are."

Gardeners` World presenter Joe Swift says something as simple as planting a sunflower can create an interest in gardening from an early age.

"This really shows kids how easy it is to grow things. They are great value for money and spur children on to garden. Gardening should be challenging for children but not impossible, and this activity encourages children to grow more and not fail.

"My kids and I measure the sunflower from the start to the end and it still astounds me that you can start with a seed and watch it grow into a beautiful 10ft sunflower!"

The campaign comes as PlantforLife research reveals only 27% of today's children spend an hour in the garden every week, and almost a third (28%) spend no time in the garden at all.

While parents say their fondest memories are making a daisy chain (69%) and building a private den in the bushes (64%), climbing a tree (63%) and picking strawberries (60%), more than a third (37%) of their own children are yet to experience these activities for themselves.

PlantforLife has teamed up with Chris Collins and Sandra Scott, a psychiatrist, to develop a gardening guide, Nature`s Nurture, with easily-achievable projects designed to stimulate growing minds.

It`s available as a free download from www.plantforlife.info/naturesnurture  where parents can find plant lists to buy from their local garden centre or retail nursery.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer