More coordinated gardeners might start looking at books and catalogs in February, but not me. This year I’m thinking about trying to involve Lightening Bolt, who wants sunflowers for their zombie-defeating powers and, above all, a small pond with frogs and fish like the neighbors have. Right… working on that one.
Great Gardens for Kids by Clare Matthews. Photographs by Clive Nichols This is a book of distinct projects for child-friendly landscaping features, arranged in chapters by type with four or so examples for each type. Topics include active play, water features, furniture, hideaways, and parties. Some of our favorites included the giant spider-web for climbing, the houses of perennial vines (rather than annuals) with version both more and less floral, all of the water features (some even appropriate for very young children), the beautiful daffodil labyrinth. Though instructions are given, they don’t include specific dimensions or sizes of pots called. Projects can cost much more than you’d think just looking at them. The horizontal climbing wall, which looks relatively simple to install, calls for four sheets of marine plywood ($80 each), plus climbing holds ($40/ 12 at REI), bolts and paint ($20 a gallon) – that’s $500 assuming bolts are free. And if one wanted to attempt more than one project from the book, costs could add up quickly. One other drawback is that it’s a British book, and climate and plant availability could vary (I haven’t checked.) Still, the projects are attractive enough for adults (I remember vividly reading it when it first came out several years ago) and look like they would inspire years of fun outdoor play for children.