How does your garden grow?

There are several great kits that teach children the basics of gardening by Andrea Gollin

By Andrea Gollin

Published July 3, 1997 8:54AM (EDT)

it's not often that one is saved by crocuses, even in literature. But
that's what happens in Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's
novel, "The Secret Garden." Mary is "as tyrannical and selfish a little
pig as ever lived," and Colin is a spoiled semi-invalid who's fretting
himself to death. Both are miserably unhappy children until they start
hanging out in the garden, digging and weeding and breathing the fresh air.
As the garden grows, so do the children, until both the neglected garden
and the lonely children are blooming with health and vigor. "There is
Magic in there -- good Magic," Colin says of the garden. And he's right,
as any child who reads the book will surely conclude.

And readers inspired to claim their own patch of earth
and watch the flowers grow can begin by taking a look at The
Secret Garden Notebook
, illustrated by Graham Rust, whose Victorian-style
illustrations also grace a reprint of the novel. The notebook is a
seasonally organized introduction to gardening, complete with instructions
and a log to keep track of what grows when. ($18.95 for "The Secret
Garden"; $12.95 for "The Secret Garden Notebook"; both for ages 10 and up,
from David R. Godine, 800-344-4771)

There are several great kits that teach kids the basics of gardening.
For those who don't have access to outdoor space, the Wee Enchanted
is a miniature scene in a 10-inch plastic planter. The
kit comes with dirt, grass and bean seeds; accessories include a
miniature house, rocks, plastic animals and a shell -- a whole
neighborhood. You provide the windowsill. ($21.95; for ages 7 and up,
from Creativity
for Kids,
800-642-2288 ext. 3037)

For the more ambitious gardener-to-be, the Vegetable Garden and
Flower Garden both come with indoor mini-greenhouses for germinating
seeds before transplanting them to the great outdoors. These kits also
contain information booklets and activity cards. ($17 each; for ages 7
and up, from ALEX, 800-666-ALEX)

Those with the most tools will, of course, grow the largest plants.
Child-sized gardening implements do exist, and there probably isn't
a kid alive who doesn't lust for a watering can -- not to mention a hand
trowel, hand shovel and hand rake. ($4-5 for hand tools,
$26 for watering can; for ages 4 and up, from BRIO, 888-274-6869)

For those who want to keep a close eye on what's growing, the
Multiscope is a telescope-microscope-spectroscope kit that allows
kids a different perspective on the leaves in your backyard; it also lets
them spy on the neighbors' gardens. The assemble-it-yourself tool
magnifies at 30X, and the telescope has a power of 4X. ($15.95; for
ages 8 and up, from Educational

Andrea Gollin

Andrea Gollin is a freelance writer living in Miami. Her children's summer book special continues next Thursday.

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