School's Out for Summer

School is indeed out for summer and the holidays stretch for weeks ahead for families.

There are the obvious candidates for filling in time and keeping the children's attention - expensive days out to theme parks and sitting in traffic queues on the M5 trying to get to the South West coast being two of many - but the answer could well be closer to home, in your own back garden.

child wateringI feel that I’ve done my bit for gardening legacy by helping my own two boys check for pests in the veg patch, edge the lawn and clear that pesky grass growth between the bricks on the path. Oh, what fun we had. Didn’t we? I’ve lectured them on the virtues of correct watering and not simply spraying it around having all that jollity. I think they got my drift. ‘Today boys we will go through the benefits of cleaning out pots immediately after use so that they are ready when you next need them’. Top stuff. They seemed enthralled. ‘Clear away the leaves from underneath roses to prevent the spread of infection by spores of blackspot. I could see them close their eyes and contemplate. Zzzzzzzzz.

OK, what a load of old rubbish! No children want to know that stuff.

tyre swing

They want water slides, their own playhouses, a small wheelbarrow to move dirt about the garden and a swing or two. It’s simple. A tyre swing fixed to a strong tree and some good weather. Actually, you don’t even need the good weather. Rain softens the lawn for the inevitable fall. It’s getting back to basics.

Games don’t have to be complicated. Hide and seek may be a tad brief in a patio courtyard garden (Count to ten. Open your eyes. ‘Oh there you are. Your turn.’ Count to ten. Open your eyes. ‘There you are’- and repeat) but a simple garden darts game is a winner. No spikes, no loud shirts and boozy crowds just a hoop target and foam tipped darts. All you need to decide is where the oche is and whether a bag o’ nuts is better than Weavers Donkey (I didn’t have a clue either until I looked it up!). Simple, fun and easy to set up and pack away when that lawn softening thunderstorm looms.  

quad image

But actual gardening can be part of the fun. Weeding is boring, lectures are so yesterday and getting debris out of the gaps between block paving tedious beyond words. Your own little set of gardening tools is exciting. A small spade, fork and trowel enables children to create their own garden space. It may turn into a muddy morass but hey, if it keeps the kids quiet!

axeHowever, a word of warning. A few years ago I was cutting some wood into usable pieces watched with admiration, by my then six year old. ‘Can I have a go?’ he asked. ‘Sure thing,’ I said, all lumberjack style in our suburban garden, ‘but be careful.’ He wasn’t, he nicked his knee with the axe (the words axe and six year old don’t really add up to a safe situation - I now realise). At school the next day he excitedly explained the plaster on his knee to his teacher. That was an interesting parent/teacher evening.

So, stay in the garden this summer, have fun, stay safe and the holidays will be one to remember.