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The days are getting longer and the itch to get into the garden and start things is stronger than ever. But what about the kids?

Many of us have tried and failed over the years to create gardens with our children that hold their interest and keep them involved. With a little planning it is possible to keep the imagination of the little ones engaged while providing a beautiful garden for you as well.

In the garden you may find you will have better success at retaining your child's interest in what is going on in the garden by selecting plants which reflect most children's tendency toward fascination with oddities. Tiny tomatoes or huge sunflowers, striped beets, giant pumpkins, rainbow swiss chard, grape hyacinth, balloon flowers, bleeding hearts and many others offer a myriad of shapes, sizes and colors to tickle the fancy of young greenthumbs.

Plants which offer interesting textures are good for keeping the interest of kids. Strawflower offers a dazzling array of petals while columbine graces the garden with its' swept back appearance. Wooly thyme, lamb's ears, and some varieties of sage offer great contrasts in texture to other plants in the garden such as prickly coneflower.

It is understood that the sense most closely associated with memory is that of scent. Create memories that will bring the kids back for more next year and will last a lifetime by indulging their sense of smell with plantings of fragrant flowers and herbs. Lilacs, roses and peonies are great choices. By showing them to rub the leaves of marjoram, rosemary and lavendar in their fingers they will find great joy in the process of releasing the delightful smells.

Attracting hummingbirds or butterflies to your garden is a fantastic way of creating interest for kids. Dill, milkweed and thistles are beloved by butterflies. Bleeding hearts, petunias, morning glories and impatiens will all help to attract hummingbirds.

Moonflowers, evening primrose, and four o'clocks are all wonderful additions to extend the time your kids visit the garden into the evening. Watching these performers open in the evening is a true delight.

Finally the garden should allow your kids to pick, pick, pick. Cosmos, snapdragon, coleus and salvia will all produce blossoms more vigorously as they are picked. Planted together in an area of the garden the kids can be set free to pick as much as they like and to bring the bouquet to the dinner table.

Remember that the point of gardening with the kids is not make it a chore for them to not look forward to. Many parents end up wondering as they do all the work whose garden it is. Take the time and effort to cultivate not only the garden space but the love of living things with your children. You'll find you plant fascination, wonder, ideas for sharing and lasting memories.

Ed Rooney is the creator of the Garden-Helper.com website which offers opportunities to learn to garden. For gardening podcasts, planting calendars, garden shopping and garden planning tools visit Garden-Helper.com.

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