More Gardening Books for Kids

Last month I listed three popular gardening books for children based on my observations at RHS library. Here are some other books that can be bought from Amazon by clicking on the cover.

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‘Grow It Eat It’ is a book for adults and kids to work on together.

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‘Starting Gardening’ sets out simple gardening skills in a fun manner.

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If you think gardeners are getting younger then look at this Activity book for 3-5 year olds .
‘…All the activities are designed to develop important preschool skills and are based on the Areas of Learning for under-fives recommended by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.’ I am in favour of Kids learning but do we need gardening on the under 5′s curriculum?
I recently spent six months voluteering at the RHS library. I was amazed at the enthusiasm and interest of children in books and garden related matters.
Below is just a small selection of books that may make unexpected stocking fillers for Christmas.

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‘Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children’ by Sharron Lovejoy includes themed gardens like the “Pizza Patch” and the “Moon Garden”, and a list of the top 20 plants for children.

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‘The Playground Potting Shed: A Foolproof Guide to Gardening with Children’ by Dominic Murphy will inspire young people to get gardening whether at home or at school.

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The RHS starts off with the ever popular Sunflower on the cover of ‘Ready, Steady, Grow’. The book includes details of quick and easy garden projects

Books can be ordered from Amazon by clicking on the images above.
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Growing Ginkgo or Gingko Trees

Young Ginkgo

Ginkgo trees are sacred trees planted around shrines and temples in China. They do not flower but have male and female plants with male catkins and long stalked ovules.

Leaves of Ginkgo

  • The deciduous leaves are  fan-shaped with veins radiating out into the leaf blade.
  • The sculpted leaves are usually  2-5 inches  long borne on short woody shoots.
  • The old popular name “Maidenhair tree” is derived from the leaves.
  • The green leaves turn buttery yellow in autumn.
  • Ginkgo leaf extract is used to treat a variety of  conditions, including memory loss, asthma, bronchitis,  and tinnitus

Growing Tips for Ginkgo

  • Most trees available in the UK are male. They grow 50-150 feet tall.
  • Ginkgo biloba do not tolerate shade and grows best in environments that are well-watered and well-drained.
  • Ginkgo retains a prodigious capacity for vegetative growth. One tree in Hiroshima regrew after the atomic bomb.
  • Ginkgo is capable of sprouting from buds near the base of the trunk. It also can develop aerial roots.
  • Fossils dating back 250 million years testify to the longevity of the species.

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Collecting Containers – Tips for Garden Pots


This fine collection of sundry containers were getting a soaking in our summer rain. The wheel at the back only contains fresh air but could become a feature for a ‘Herb Wheel’ if laid on poor soil.

Tips for Containers

  • Small clay feet in threes or fours lift the container off these Yorkshire stone flags. This aids drainage and prevents the base of the container freezing onto a path and then loosing the base when moved.
  • Mulch and decoration on the surface of a pot can be organic with bark or inorganic with a variety of pebbles and stones. Mulch helps prevent moss and keeps the wind & sun off the soil surface.
  • Bear in mind a small pot will constrain the roots and a large tree will become a bit like a bonsai. That can be quite desirable but remember to freshen the compost by replacing the top 2″ annually and fertilizing regularly.
  • Pots can bake in summer and roots become distressed. Black and plastic pots are the worst whilst evaporation through terracotta cools a bit. If in doubt keep moist and shaded.
  • Pots can freeze but bubble wrapping your pots can help hardy plants through winter.
  • Pots located together look better than pepper-potted around. They also help maintain a humidity level in a micro climate (not too important in this wet garden)

Unusual Containers

Long Toms

  • A bog garden can be created in an old galvanised basin without drainage holes. Miniature water lilies are now available for small ponds so give it a try.
  • Long Tom or old Chimney pots are ideal for tall statuesque displays. Try some airy grasses at the back near a wall.

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Children’s Bottle Gardens and Terrariums

photo by medoriastar

Bottle Gardens for children can be entertaining and educational. Plants can be supplemented with small toys as any gardening is meant to be fun.

Containers and Bottles
At the larger end you may want a fish tank garden, which is easier to plant up and maintain. Cut a piece of glass to fit on the top.
An old sweet jar laid on it’s side or a goldfish bowl can be planted up
Clear glass is needed to get photosynthesis working.
The larger the bottle top the easier it will be to fill and maintain.

How to Plant up
Put in a 2″ layer of fine gravel to aid drainage
Cover with a layer of compost no more than 2-3 ”
Plant mini plants in the compost, taller growers at the back.
Cover again with a thin layer of gravel to hold soil in place.

Small Plants for a Children’s Bottle Garden

Select plants that are slow growing and dwarf in habit like:-

  • Polka dot plants Hypoestes phyllostachya
  • Friendship plant Pilea involucrata terxtured or lined varieties
  • Peperomias are compact with heart shaped leaves
  • African violets and the carpet plant Episcia both have good flowers

Cultivation of your Bottle Garden
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Eco-friendly Protection in the Garden


If you are in the ‘protection racket’ then a gardeners best friend is a walled garden. This protects from wind and driving rain and helps create a micro climate. Walls retain heat from the sun and are great for training climbers and some tender plants.

Protecting crops and ornamentals from natures predators is next on the list. The tent over this fruit cage keeps the birds away and the plant pot on a cane holds the mesh in the centre. Micro-fleece barriers are now regularly used to protect carrots, brassicas  and other crops from insect and pigeon damage.

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Plants Named Shirley

Tulip Shirley

These Tulips are named ‘Shirley’ and have an appropriate airy feel.

Tomato Shirley has a sobriquet F1 and is one of the well named best performers.

A white Peony has been named after Shirley Temple and is available from Jersey Plants
The Rhododendron Shirley a ‘Yak’ hybrid is dark red with markings.

The Americans have patented a red geranium with the name of Shirley

Shirley Poppies also spring readily to mind.

I thought ‘shirley’ there will be a Rose named after a Shirley but so far I have been unable to find one. Let me know what is missing

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Spores for Ferns and Mushrooms

We all know about seeds many of which make good eating as well as perpetuating a species. Peas, beans, pumkin, carraway, lentils and sunflower seeds are all useful in the kitchen. Spores are less edible.

What is a Spore

  • A spore is a small reproductive cell produced by certain fungi, moss and ferns.
  • The main difference between spores and seeds is that spores have little food storage compared with seeds. Hence they are not generally eaten by animals.
  • Spores are produced in large numbers to increase the chance of a spore surviving.
  • Spores are often distributed in the wind.
  • Spores can last for many years before producing offspring.
  • Mushrooms are grown from spores called spawn.

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Flowers in Soft Colours and Pastel Shades

This autumn has produced many great displays of reds and yellows but think on about next years softer colours.

The garish and brash have no place in some muted garden designs. Out with fiery reds and sizzling oranges and in with pastels and soft colours.

White and Creams

  • Stark white doesn’t always work for me. A pure white Campanula may draw the attention away from the surrounding display.
  • White edging such as Alyssum works well and as with other white flowers looks good with dark green leaves.
  • Off-white is a favourite and some cream Roses work extremely well in soft colour schemes.
  • Avoid creams that verge on being pale yellow.
  • White in leaf colour as with some variegated Hostas helps lift a colour scheme.

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Pink – Shocking or Candyfloss

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Tips for Dark Winter Gardening

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What can gardeners do in the cold wet months of December and January? The soil will probably be cold and wet as so will be the weather particularly if you live in the north of England.
Stay warm and dry and do all the cleaning and maintenance jobs you have avoided. When the growing season starts in earnest you wont have the time.

One tip for indoors is to invest in a ‘blue light’ or natural light bulb. This can con plants into thinking the days are a bit longer and the light levels a bit brighter.

A top ten tips

  1. Curl up with a good internet connection and browse away on the host of gardening web sites including Gardenerstips.
  2. Ask Father Christmas for a gardening book on your favourite subject or by a popular set of authors like Matthew Biggs, John Cushnie, Bob Flowerdew, and Anne Swithinbank.
  3. Plan your garden campaign for the coming seasons. Record what you want to achieve and the actions that will help you achieve it.
  4. Order your seeds and summer bulbs from a quality supplier.
  5. Check your over wintering plants, cuttings and stored vegetables.

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Scented Indoor Plants


Do you remember scratch and sniff adverts during the 1980′s? Well, you can grow your own sniffs without needing to scratch them. Top of my pile is going to be scented Orchids but there are many other house plants with exotic scent.

Scented Houseplants

  • Orchid dendrobium is the second largest group of orchids after bullbophylium. Many species and hybrids are scented including kingianum, loddigesii, monoliforme and nobile. I find the white varieties are strongest in the scent stakes. Star Class is a variety being strongly marketed this year
  • Gardenia have glossy green leaves that set off the pearl coloured flowers of the seasonally named Snowball. The scent is nothing like a snowball unless it has been dunked in Channel No 5.
  • Third and last choice in white flowers (from pale pink buds) has to be the popular Jasmine. A twiner often grown in a loop or on a framework the scent is powerful even ‘heaven-scent’ according to RHS adverts.
  • Back to Orchids with Sharry Baby an Orchid Oncidium with a vanilla scent. (Vanilla is a spice made from Orchid seeds ). The flowers are small but there are going to be lots of them.
  • Keeping it simple you can’t go wrong with Hyacinths either forced for Christmas time flowering or natural for later scented blooms. Newer multiflowered varieties have masses of bloom but I found they were not as strongly scented as selected individual flowers.
  • Short in flowering time when indoors but strong on scent the Narcissus Pheasant Eye, Erlicheer, Cheerfulness or Paperwhite are hard to beat.

Cattleya Angelwalker

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