Gardening for All by Jeanne Carbone

This blog was written by a representative from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Digging in the dirt, planting a seed, searching for a color in the garden, sitting very still to see the action of a butterfly….these are all a part of the joy of gardening.  Gardening is, simply put, an interaction between a person and a plant.  That interaction does not require an extensive knowledge of horticulture or a complete set of the best tools but rather what is needed is a desire to engage and a “living” space. 

A child with a disability has the ability to use their senses on many levels to make a connection in the garden.   Encourage a child to make observations by touching, smelling, looking, listening and yes, tasting.

  • Rub a leaf to notice the texture…..soft, smooth, sticky, “hairy”
  • Pick a seed pod and shake it to see if it makes noise
  • Rub the leaves of an herb and smell your fingers
  • Pick a few mint leaves, wash them and taste where the flavor of gum comes from
  • Use color samples to find matching colors in the garden

What better way to connect a child to the garden than to make it their own?  Planting a few seeds of basil in a pot and being responsible for their care can be the start of a lifetime of gardening, for children and parents.  Once a seed is planted, have the child check the soil with their finger everyday…..is it wet or dry?  Water as needed and as the plant grows, talk about what is happening.  The stem is getting taller, leaves start budding, the leaves have a smell to them.  Create a journal to track the growth of your plant and before you know it, basil will be in your dinner.   Harvesting from a plant that your child started from seed is what gardening is all about!