With the Chelsea Flower Show fresh in our memories, it’s a good time to talk about teaching young people about gardening.

Some schools have a school garden and sessions where the children are involved in planting and growing a variety of plants.  However, gardening doesn’t seem to fit into the curriculum as a regular subject.

Listening to some of the Chelsea exhibitors there’s really no excuse for not gardening – if there isn’t a suitable patch of ground to dig, there are people who specialise in indoor gardens and one man who has a hedge in his flat!  If there isn’t time for a high maintenance garden there are gardeners who specialise in succulents (like cacti), which do quite well without daily watering.

There really is a type of gardening for everyone, from novice to expert and contrary to some people’s beliefs, gardening is not something to take up when you retire!

It’s a wonderful way to teach Biology – with all the blossoms, bugs and botanical evidence right in front of the children.  A real live plant or beetle is much more interesting than a text book diagram.

It’s a good way to teach children about planning.  A beautiful garden needs thought, a design that takes into account the size plants grow to, the environment that different plants need to thrive, the colour mix, the type of soil, what works with what and what time of the year various flowers bloom – or vegetables need planting and harvesting.

It’s an excellent way to develop teamwork when children share the responsibility for the garden.

It’s good for them to be out in the open air and exercising their bodies and minds – regardless of whether they’re 5 or 15.  It’s been proven that exercise improves brain activity.

How could your school use gardening as a learning aid – either to help teach the existing curriculum or as part of a community project?

If the school doesn’t have the facilities or staff to manage this get your kids to to look after a patch of garden or a herb pot, or grow a window-ledge full of flowers.  Encourage them to talk about what they’re learning about their mini-garden.

You never know you might have a future Gold Award winner at Chelsea in your household!