Even in winter your garden is a vital resource for your children. So use it and be inspired by it, but most of all have fun in it. Extend the length of time you spend with your kids in the garden by preparing now for spring and summer.
The snowy and very cold weather provides some great opportunities for fun play in the garden. There’s a lot more to do in addition to the traditional games of snowballing and making a snowman. You can throw snowballs at a static target such as a tree trunk and dustbin or create your own target board by drawing it with chalk on a wall.
Create pictures and patterns in the snow with diluted food colouring in spray bottles. If you’d rather not have food dye all over the garden then confine the activity to a sand tray.
Before the head goes on a built snowman get the children to stand behind it as if their head belongs to it. It makes a fantastic photo. How about a multi-headed snowman? Use a range of props such as wigs, hats and sunglasses for the children to wear and start taking those photos. Once the snowman is complete have a go at standing a few metres away and throwing his hat to land on his head.
When everyone’s feet begin to turn cold have a go at snowball and spoon races. You can always make a new snowball if one is dropped.
Create magical ice art that glistens and sparkles in the garden. Put natural objects such as leaves, interesting twigs, and pine needles in a cup (a disposable one works well), or shallow dish with water and a piece of string. Freeze the contents, remove ice from its container and then hang outside. More detailed information can be found on how we made ice sculptures.
Buy or order plants and seeds for the garden so you are ready as soon as the weather warms up. If you want to create
a willow tunnel or willow teepee for this summer plant the willow by the end of March.
Kidsinthegarden’s favourite easy grow annual seeds can be bought now. they are :-
- Candy Tuft (Iberis umbellata)
- Cosmos(Cosmos bipinnatus)
- Love in A Mist (Nigella damascena)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
- Pot Marigold (Calendula Officinalis) – Quick growing
- Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Large seeds such as Sunflower and Nasturtium are the easiest for young children to handle and can be placed in the ground at intervals so negating the need to thin.
Violas, primulas and winter flowering pansies are in the garden centres. These can make great displays especially in containers.
If you have a pond float a small ball on it to prevent it freezing over. This will keep the water oxygenated and reduce the risk of suffocating any frogs beneath the surface.
Don’t forget to keep feeding the birds and let them have some water. The British Trust for Ornithology reckons that there are now 5-6 million bird boxes in UK gardens. You can put one up in your garden at any time of year . January/February is a good time if you want to see spring chicks fledge from it. If you have a bird box don’t forget to clear it out. Why not put up another one. You could also consider an insect hotel.