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April 17, 2014  |  Login
Planting a Garden With Baby in Mind
By Dr. Alan Greene

Whether we live in a house with a garden or in an apartment with windowsills of potted plants, we all have the choice to have healthy green plants, flowers, and homegrown edibles in our lives. What could be better for raising baby green than an up-close view of nature every day? A garden, whether indoors or out, is the perfect setting for teaching our children about the care and appreciation of our precious planet earth.

Think about creating a special corner of the garden where you can introduce your baby to the delights of the great outdoors. The list below will help you choose plants that invite butterflies and hummingbirds, flowers that are especially fragrant and colorful, and tasty edibles for your baby’s developing palate. Hang a bird feeder (fill it with organic seeds) to encourage feathered visitors. And be sure to include a comfy chair where you and your baby can cuddle and watch nature unfold.

Here are some suggested plants for this special garden, but check first with your local supplier for varieties or alternatives suitable for your area. Pick and choose from among these ideas, and re­member that the main thing is to enjoy your garden, the fresh air, nature, fun, and nourishment—and to pass these joys on to your child.

  • A tree for baby. A great way to begin is to plant a legacy tree in your baby’s name. You could plant any sort of shade tree and make a fine contribution to the environment, but why not plant something you can eat? A fruit tree will provide both shade and delicious home-grown bounty for many decades to come. A fun project is to take a picture every year of your child standing next to the tree to record how both are growing and changing.
  • Fragrant annuals and tender perennials. Try planting common stock (Matthiola) with spikes of blossoms that smell like cinnamon, or old-fashioned violets (Viola odorata). If you can find a violet that’s native to your area, you’ll be rewarded with the sweetest perfume of any wildflower.
  • Herbs. Grow lavender (Lavandula) in a sunny spot and peppermint in the shade (this potentially invasive plant is best confined to a pot) for flowers and leaves to crush in your fingers and sniff. For a soft and dewy green carpet underfoot, plant aromatic chamomile (Chamae­melum nobile).

  • Fruits and vegetables. For a special summer treat, try growing plump, delicious, and so-good-for-you blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum). You’ll have the best yield if you plant several varieties for cross-
  • pollination And watch for the brilliant scarlet or yellow foliage produced in the fall by this outstanding edible landscape plant. Other yummy edibles for baby’s special garden include sweet “Nantes” carrots and tender sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum). But be careful! Don’t confuse edible sugar snap peas with the decorative flowering sweet pea (Lathyrus), which is a poisonous plant.

  • To attract butterflies. Sunny gardens attract the most butterflies, so pick an open, unshaded area to plant the nectar-producing plants that butterflies love. One aptly named shrub is called butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), which creates a fountain of lavender or pink flowers. Butterflies are said to be nearsighted and attracted to swaths of bright flowers, so think about planting patches of scarlet zinnias, sunny marigolds, and colorful cosmos. Include as many native plants as possible.

Edible Landscaping

If you’ve given edible plants a try in the baby garden, you might be interested in what else you can do if there’s room left in the rest of the yard. more


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