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Festive Gardening - As we get into the colder months, let's dive into the wondrous world of gardening with toddlers. Who says the garden is only for summer? Let's debunk that myth and start creating festive memories and connections right in your garden. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's talk about setting the stage for our winter gardening adventure. Picture this, your garden transformed into a winter wonderland, adorned with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a sprinkle of holiday magic. Creating a festive ambience not only sets the mood but also enhances the overall experience for both you and your little ones. We often think about decorating the front of our homes, but this year how about looking out back too? By creating a winter wonderland, it sets up a space where incredible memories can be made with festive gardening.  

Once you have a garden ready for magic, we are ready to kick off our festive gardening extravaganza with some hands-on DIY Christmas planters. Gather pots, soil, and a variety of winter-loving plants like holly, ivy, or miniature evergreens. Involve the children in the process of arranging these plants in the pots. It's a fantastic sensory activity that stimulates their creativity and connects them with nature. I often get my daughter to paint or decorate the pots first, then together we explore our outdoor space to gather the materials needed. We also head to the garden centre to see what we can find, which makes for a great day out together. As you plant, share some facts about the chosen plants, their resilience in winter, and what they bring to the garden. These little moments of learning and exploration lay the foundation for creating memories together and bring a closer connection to nature for you all.  

To bring some education into the garden, let’s talk about mulching. It may not sound like the most glamorous gardening activity, but trust me, it's a game-changer, especially during winter. Get the children geared up with their mini gardening tools, and let’s take the first step to the magic of mulching. Mulch is like a protective layer that we put around plants in the garden. It can be made of different things like wood chips, straw, or even leaves. When we spread this cosy mulch around plants, it helps them in a few amazing ways! Explain the importance of mulch in protecting plants from the winter chill. As you work together to spread that cosy blanket of mulch around the plants, you are teaching the importance of caring for plants even in the colder months.  

Now, Let's Add a Dash of Excitement With a Festive Scavenger Hunt.  

Create a list of Christmas-themed items hidden around the garden, such as candy canes, mini baubles, or even tiny, wrapped presents. Equip the children with a little basket and watch their eyes light up as they discover each hidden treasure. This activity not only brings a sense of adventure to the garden but also helps develop essential skills like observation and problem-solving. I love this idea as it's an excellent way to reinforce the idea that the garden is a magical place, brimming with surprises, no matter the season. 

Christmas is a time of giving, and what better way to instil this value than by hosting a bird feeding party in the back garden? Craft simple bird feeders using pinecones, lard, and bird seed. Let your toddler take charge of spreading the lard and rolling the pinecones in the seeds. It’s a messy make, but a really fun one to create in the warm. You can pop this in the fridge overnight and then hang these festive bird feeders in strategic spots around the garden, creating a feast for our feathered friends. Place them somewhere in the garden that toddlers can see from the warmth of the home and then sit back and watch the party happen.  

As it gets dark and the garden transforms into a glittering wonderland with fairy lights, gather your cosy blankets and snuggle up for a storytime under the stars. Choose a garden-themed or Christmas storybook and let the magic of storytelling unfold amidst the enchanting outdoor setting. We are lucky enough to have a trampoline that we do this on when it's dry outside. With the stars above us, it makes for an incredible experience, although with the cold temperatures, not a long one. This simple yet profound activity reinforces the idea that the garden isn't just a place for physical activities but also a haven for imagination and bonding.  

The Skinny Jean Gardener's Top Tips for Winter Gardening Success

1) Choose Winter-Hardy Plants, look for plants that thrive in colder temperatures, such as winter pansies, heather, or ornamental cabbages. These additions ensure your garden remains vibrant even in the chilliest months.

2) Invest in Child-Sized Tools, make gardening accessible and enjoyable for your toddler by providing them with their own set of pint-sized gardening tools. This not only enhances their sense of independence but also makes the activities more manageable and safer. Look out for tools that look just like adult-sized ones, so that toddlers feel part of the gardening action, and that it’s not just another toy. 

3) Celebrate Small Achievements, whether it's successfully planting a bulb or spotting a robin in the garden, celebrate these small achievements with the children. Positive reinforcement teaches and encourages continued engagement.

4) Embrace Messiness, gardening is a hands-on activity, and it's okay to get a little messy. Embrace the dirt and the joy it brings to the children’s exploration. After all, a dirty hand is a happy hand in the garden! 

5) Create a Year-Round Calendar, plan seasonal gardening activities throughout the year. From spring planting to summer harvesting, autumn leaf collections, and winter preparations, having a year-round calendar keeps the excitement alive and the garden relevant in every season. 

In the world of children's gardening, the garden is not just a summer affair; it's a year-round haven of discovery and connection. By embracing the magic of Christmas, festive gardening and infusing your garden with festive spirit, you're creating a space where memories blossom alongside the flowers. 

So, wrap up warm, don your favourite festive sweater, and step into the winter wonderland that is your garden. With a little creativity and a lot of love, you'll discover that the garden is not just for summer, it's a canvas for endless possibilities, even in the heart of winter. Happy festive gardening, everyone! 

Want a great Christmas gift to continue the gardening journey? Me and my daughter have put all our ideas into the How to Get Kids Gardening book. Over the years we have created memories by making and growing with upcycled and recycled ideas. It’s available this Christmas for just £10 (RRP £12.99) signed and ready for Christmas at skinnyjeangardener.co.uk/shop/how-to-get-kids-gardening .

Did you find this blog on festive gardening useful? Take a look at some of our other gardening blogs here:

About the author:

Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

    About the author:

    Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

      About the author:

      Meet Lee, the gardening guru featured on CBBC Blue Peter, BBC Radio 1, and more! Children's author, podcast host, and UK's #1 Children's Gardening Educator. 🌱🎙️

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