Children’s Summer Garden

Blog by Garden Designer Marion Keogh

Summer Gardening with Children
June has been and brought us summer solstice. Summer just got real! Birds have made their nests and are rearing babies right now so keep an eye out for fledglings taking their first flights. A Bird Box with a Camera is a great investment but can be expensive. Download the “Merlin” app to your phone and bring it on a walk or just out into the garden. It identifies all the birds as they sing so it’s an excellent way to learn who shares your garden with you.

Bird Food
It’s best to have lots of flowering plants and some Roses in the garden. These attract insects and greenfly which are the best food for small garden birds. If you don’t have much plants then hang bird feeders around the place making sure you keep them loaded with birdseed as the birds will depend on you to feed them.

Watch the ground and the soil after it has rained. Worms come up to the surface so they don’t get waterlogged and the birds, especially Blackbirds, spring around the garden gathering up those worms for their families back in the nest. A hedge is a great addition into your garden – native plants like Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Holly, Fuchsia and Rose will grow quickly and their colour and spikiness provide excellent cover for small birds from larger worriers like Magpies and Crows. These natural shelters and food sources for small garden birds like Wrens, Robins, Blue Tits and Finches are more sustainable than buying bird boxes and feeders as well as giving you a prettier garden for you to enjoy.

Bird Watching
Turn your house into a Bird Hide! Binoculars are a worthwhile purchase so the children can still observe birds from inside in case the weather isn’t great, or indeed it becomes too hot. And a Bird Bath is also an important addition to any garden space – this can be just a saucer or plate sitting on something tallish to keep cats away. Just make sure it has water in it at all times. Bees and other insects will also welcome it.

A small pond will offer that watery relief to all garden wildlife but it must be shallow and safe for the very small humans visiting the garden. If you can get the children to help make a pond it can be small – even 1m long x 50cm wide is achievable. Dig out some soil to make a hole in the ground, fill it with builder’s plastic or pond-grade butyl lining allowing it to come out over the top of the pond. This can be hidden with some large rocks and stones to give the whole thing a more natural look. You can plant special pond plants in baskets in your pond and always leave in some rocks or old pieces of granite or bricks. Re-using old building materials in a pond is a good way for frogs and other insects to get out of the water plus you’re not buying anything new. A pond needs to be much deeper if you’re adding fish but that might be too dangerous if you have toddlers visiting.

Make a Summer Crown
Pick some twigs that are very bendy and you can make them into a circle by twisting the branches around and into each other. Use twine to tie it together if it’s not staying tight. Then loop strands of Ivy, Honeysuckle, rambling Roses and other pretty flowers through your base crown shape. Take care of any thorns! You can wear it and tie ribbons in it or hang it from a tree.

Let your grass grow
If you can it’s a lovely thing to let your grass grow long over the summer months. You can cut the whole lot in September to keep it from getting too wild. But over the summer just cut pathways through the long grass. Let the Daisies, Buttercups, Clover and Dandelions grow up thought the grass to make a beautiful carpet of colour. Insects will be thrilled with this meadow and you’ll get more birds flitting in and out of your garden.

Paint those pots
Acrylic paints are easy to buy in discount shops and with some disposable paintbrushes the children can paint terracotta flowerpots. Let the paint dry for a day or two and plant up Cosmos, Geraniums and other flowering annual plants for a big splash of summer colour. Especially if it’s a grey cloudy day.

Summer 2024

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