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Bring the Kids!


Children love gardens. To them, they’re sites of enchantment and discovery. New colours to see, new scents to smell, curious textures to feel, and so much more. They’ll discover a pond, lake or river with fish and maybe even turtles. Many gardens let you feed the colourful koi (Japanese carp) that gather along the banks as you pass. When surrounded by flowers, have the kids search for insects and other critters. Bees, butterflies, damselflies and much more are there to see if only you take the time to notice them. You’ll certainly see birds and squirrels and maybe even a bunny! Use these discoveries to teach kids about the environment. Why are the bees and butterflies visiting the flowers? How do bees make honey? What do seeds turn into? How do heavy nuts move elsewhere to start a new tree? (Hint: watch the squirrels.)

Many gardens have specific play areas for kids (if there is a splash pond, make sure to bring a towel), special programmes for them on weekends or summer day programmes for kids. Some even have tree houses… for kids only, of course!

For the older kids, often less enthusiastic than their younger siblings, turn the trip into a competition: who can find the most animals (and yes, slugs do count!)? Name the most flowers? What’s the biggest flower or leaf they can find? The smallest? (Bring a tape measure to end any disputes.) Before you leave for the garden, prepare a list of the animals and plants the kids are likely to see: just watch their eyes light up as they check things off… then personalize the lists by adding their own discoveries.

Most gardens have a drinking fountain, but do bring other refreshments just in case. Many gardens allow and even encourage picnics, always a treat for kids. Bring plenty of sunscreen… and slip an umbrella into your bag, just in case. And do find out where the bathrooms are located when you arrive in the park: you know the kids are going to need them!

Enjoy a garden outing this summer with your kids or grandkids… and if they really have a good time, do it again at another of Canada’s numerous public gardens.

Larry Hodgson


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