The Garden of Magical Childhood by

Issue · Children's Garden · May 30, 2013

The Garden of Magical Childhood

Issue · Children's Garden · May 30, 2013

My daughter adores buttercups. We are clearing a patch of garden which has become overrun and it will be her patch. She wants to grow the things she likes and that includes the creeping buttercup. Other favorites are dandelions and daisies, bluebells and wild strawberries. For a child, they are all value-added, plants you can play with or eat. For an adult, they have to get out of the borders.

Photographs by Kendra Wilson.

Dandelion clocks. Gardenista

Above: The best/worst moment in the life cycle of a dandelion depending on whether you are a child or a grownup.

Bluebell wood in England. Gardenista

Above: Bluebells are on my daughter's list of top five plants because they are shaped like bells and fairies live in them. There is undoubtedly something magical about a bluebell wood for children and adults alike. The double hit of color and scent is transcending and if fairies live in the flowers, then all the better.

The Garden of Magical Childhood, Chelsea. Gardenista

Above: When the toys are not cleared away. This is a problem for many adults.

At the Chelsea Flower Show this year a small garden in the "Artisan" section attracted a lot of attention. It was a children's garden which was intended to provoke memories in visitors of their own childhoods. The tree house made out of old pieces of wood, the space hopper and the ancient teddies certainly took me back to west London in the '70s and would have struck a chord with most people who had had gardens as children, during any era since the 1950s.

Garden of Magical Childhood, Chelsea. Gardenista

Above: The Garden of Magical Childhood was down an alley of gold medal-winning gardens at Chelsea. Tucked away in a wooded area with birds singing, its location added to the atmosphere of the garden. This was about un-manicured areas, in which children are allowed to be themselves. Planting includes Linaria purpurea or "bombsite rocket." Other plants which are allowed to thrive undisturbed are great clumps of dock, stinging nettle, horse chestnut seedlings and lawn daisies.

The Garden of Magical Childhood, Chelsea. Gardenista

Above: Marbles in the flower beds. How annoying is that? Here, they are semi-hidden among sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), probably the most legit ground cover here; among clover, shepherd's purse, and bluebells.

Considering sweet woodruff as a round cover? Galium Odoratum is $29.95 for three plants from White Flower Farm.

Viburnum opulus, Chelsea. Gardenista

Above: Another informal and respectable plant which appeals to children and adults alike, with its spheres of acid green, is the guelder rose or Viburnum opulus.

Children aren't the only people who call viburnums "snowball bushes." A Viburnum Opulus 'Roseum' Snowball is $39.59 from Grimm's Garden.

The Garden of Magical Childhood, Chelsea. Gardenista

Above: Foxgloves and geum (shown here: G. 'totally tangerine'). These can be enjoyed by both parties. But what is that at the bottom? Meadow buttercup and greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea). Oh dear.

A 4-inch pot of Geum 'Totally Tangerine' is available seasonally; $7.95 from Annie's Annuals.


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