How to plant a welly garden

Planting welly boots with flowers is a great way to engage children in gardening Picture: Ruth Goud

Planting welly boots with flowers is a great way to engage children in gardening Picture: Ruth Goudy - Credit: Archant

Gardening is proven to be good for our mental health and getting children involved at an early age in projects like this is a great way to kick start their passion.

Chelsea week is fantastic. Who doesn't love the gorgeous gardens created by the experts? This year I was delighted when the Duchess of Cambridge was publicised as being involved in a garden for children encouraging them to be outside. I was so pleased to hear her talk about how important gardening is to mental and physical wellbeing. Anyone who gardens knows this. We instinctively feel better for being outside, being aware of the weather, sunshine, breeze or rain, touching the earth and hearing the birdsong.

And, as any child psychologist will tell you, the best time to influence people's wellbeing and understanding is to catch them young. The formative years of early childhood are what sets the tone for our lives to come.

So, this half term how about a project in the garden with your children, grandchildren or friends? It does not need to be complicated or expensive or a Chelsea show garden. How about a welly boot garden? One of my pet hates as a parent was how I had only just bought one pair of shoes, sandals or wellies and my daughters had outgrown them, seemingly by the next time they went to put them on.

Children's wellies are fantastic these days. Instead of drab green they can be patterned or multi-coloured or even in the shape of frogs (my personal favourite). Find an old pair and fill them with multi-purpose compost then simply add plants. If you don't have wellies, a pair of shoes will do. The child may even want to paint them or decorate them first.

At this time of year, summer flowers are fantastic to plant as they are quick to grow and have a stunning, colourful effect. A trip to the garden centre need not be expensive. You will only need a couple of plants for a wellie top as they are quite narrow. I would suggest something like a petunia or a marigold as an upright plant and a geranium or trailing verbena to drape down the side. These are quite easy plants to look after and, of course, part of the learning and enjoyment is to water regularly.

Whenever gardening with children, it is vital to remember one thing; for a child it is the 'doing' that they find rewarding. As adults we have learned to be obsessed with the 'outcome'. We want the garden to look pretty or be productive at the end of the project. It is all about results for us. The child you are working with may not have the same desires as you. For them it is the activity itself which gives the pleasure. The 'getting the hands dirty', the chatter and decision making about what type of plants to choose and the sense of accomplishment of having put it all in place. Do not judge their gardening by your standards. Watch and learn. I usually find I gain more from their creativity and joy than they learn from my expertise.

Ruth Goudy writes about the joy of working with flowers and plants on her blog Ruth and her husband Paul run Kiln Farm Nursery, Kesgrave.