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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
Stone soup garden
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Theme Gardens for Children and School Gardens

At the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium in Denver, CO this year I got the opportunity to tour a lot of great, well established school gardens throughout the city. One of the common points that stuck out to me was the use of themed gardens.

Theme gardens are a great way to make the gardens more relatable for the kids and it helps get them excited about gardening. What kid doesn't like pizza right? So planting a pizza themed garden can go a long way in getting the kids engaged in that garden. It also helps kids understand where their food comes from. The ingredients for that pizza don't just come from the grocery store, they're grown in a garden first and many kids aren't able to make that connection these days.

The goal of these gardens is for the kids to see the entire process from seeding and planting, all the way through using what they harvest to make a final product they can eat.

Here are just a few examples of themed gardens that kids love:

  • Pizza garden: Plant tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic, oregano, or any other toppings kids like on their pizzas.
  • Spaghetti garden: Plant tomatoes, eggplants, basil, oregano, parsley, onions, garlic, and spaghetti squash.
  • Salsa garden: Plant tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro.
  • Salad garden: Plant various lettuces, radishes, snap peas, for a quick harvest and include some edible flowers like nasturtium and marigolds for fun.
  • Miniature garden: Plant miniature varieties like grape tomatoes or tiny pumpkins.
  • Giant garden: Plant large varieties like giant pumpkins and tall sunflowers.
  • Craft garden: Plant things that can be used for dyes like beets and carrots. Plant potatoes or apples that can be used to carve and make stamps. Plant various flowers that can be pressed or pounded into fabric to make patterns.
  • Alphabet garden: Plant something from each letter of the alphabet.
  • Tea garden: Plant various aromatic herbs like chamomile, mint, and lemon balm that can be used in teas.
  • Animal garden: Plant varieties with interesting animal names like Elephant Garlic, Horseradish, Panther Cauliflower, Flashy Trout Back Lettuce, Baby Bear Pumpkin, Speckled Swan Gourd, Snow Leopard Honeydew, or Green Zebra Tomatoes.
  • Bee and butterfly garden: Plant flowering herbs such as borage, fennel and thyme; flowers and wildflowers such as alyssum, zinnias, marigolds and pinks that will all attract beneficial insects
  • Alien garden: Grow plants that look like they're from another world like giant alliums or dinosaur kale.
  • Sunflower garden: Plant a border of sunflowers to create a sunflower house that kids can play and read in.
  • Gardens based on books:
  • Stone Soup: Plant beans, cabbage, peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions or anything else to go in a soup.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Choose plants that attract butterflies.
  • Tops and Bottoms: Choose plants that grow above and below ground.
  • Planting a Rainbow Garden: Choose plants from every color of the rainbow.
  • Peter Rabbit: Parsley, sage, thyme, bush beans, cabbage, and carrots are perfect for a Peter Rabbit Garden. And don't forget the bunny statues.
And don't forget to make sure to label everything in the garden for an additional learning experience for garden visitors.

The possibilities are really endless!

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