GREEN-FINGERED youngsters are being encouraged to grow a rainbow to support the NHS and key workers.
They are being urged to grow a rainbow of flowers in their garden, on their balcony or windowsill, or by using the leaves and petals from existing plants to create their own unique rainbow design, to mark National Children’s Gardening Week (May 23 to 31).
Chris Collins, National Children’s Gardening Week Ambassador and Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic in Ryton, said: “Gardening and interacting with nature can create hours of fun for children and giving them a specific project to do is the spur they need to engage them.
“What better project at the moment than one to support our NHS and key workers?”
Learning about plants and how they grow feeds into many different parts of the national curriculum and parents can support this learning by providing children with some seeds and a trowel and letting them discover the wonders of growing.
Chris added: “Children love nothing more than getting their hands in the soil and getting them dirty. Buy them some seeds, preferably organic and get them started.”
There is still plenty that can be sown this time of year – simply follow the instructions on the seed packets for how to grow.
Chris’s top recommendations for a rainbow of colour are:
Red – Nasturtium. These are really simple to grow, and you can eat the flowers too.
Orange – English or Pot Marigold. This is a fantastic addition to any garden, the flowers attract a number of beneficial insects which will help control pests.
Yellow – Sunflower. Everyone loves the cheerful flower of a sunflower! Their bright yellow flowers attract butterflies and bees and you can see who in your household can grow the tallest one for a bit of competition.
Green – Herbs. Why not sow a row of herbs in the middle of your rainbow? They will provide a luscious strip of green that you can enjoy in the kitchen as well as the garden.
Blue – Cornflower. These beautiful blue flowers attract hoverflies in the summer months and the seeds are loved by birds.
Purple – Aster. This perennial plant has star-like purple flowers which will be teeming with butterflies and hoverflies come the autumn months.
Pink – Cosmos. Cosmos come in a wide range of colours but the bright pink are especially stunning. The beautiful and delicate flowers will be alive with beneficial hoverflies, lacewings and parasitic wasps (which don’t sting!).
While children are waiting for their seeds to grow they could also create a rainbow using petals and leaves.
Encourage them to go into the garden and collect a variety of leaves and petals of different colours to stick on a sheet of paper in the shape of a rainbow. Don’t worry if there is a colour missing as the rainbow shape will still be there.
All you need is list of the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink), pencil, paper, and glue.
Further ideas to get children interested in the garden during National Children’s Gardening week include going on a bug hunt to identify insects or creating a cress caterpillar.
Visit gardenorganic.org.uk/news/national-childrens-gardening-week for further information and activity sheets.