In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.
Certain challenges in life are easier to negotiate than others, Ellie Goodall thinks that persuading children to become interested in gardening shouldn't be too difficult and can be very rewarding.
Gardening has various aspects to please any child i.e. getting dirty, digging holes and messing about with water, it should be a doddle.
Growing plants from seed is a good start and there are now several suppliers who offer seeds designed to encourage youngsters' interest.
Fast growing varieties, brightly coloured plants, grasses that can be cut to shape or nasturtiums that are both colourful and edible.
Children won't generally take to the ordinary, what sparks their enthusiasm is the big, bright and brash.
Sunflowers fit into that category pretty well as do unusual shaped vegetables such as pumpkins that are both garish and useful as scarey Halloween lanterns.
Plants that mature quickly such as salad leaves have a dual function. Firstly children don't have a great reputation for patience, so fast growing produce goes some way to solving that problem, and secondly they can eat what they grow which is a bonus.
The garden is full of creepy crawlies that should keep children fascinated and can be educational.
Who needs a book when you can teach children about natures creepy crawlies by going out side and looking at the birds and the bees.
The fascinating way pollination works will be nearly as interesting as picking up an old log and discovering the way nature deals with re-cycling. The mass of insect life beavering away returning goodness to the earth from detritus is a lesson in ecology.
It couldn't be easier to attract birds to your garden, showing your children how many types there are, what they eat, which ones spend all year in Britain and which fly to hotter countires. Attach a fat ball to the clothes line and watch how quickly the squirrels learn to feed off it.
Leave pet food out for hedgehogs and explain how they, along with frogs, are the gardener's friend.
When the children get older and under supervision, a wildlife pond will be the source of hours of interest and learning.
Children should be inspired by the raft of TV wildlife programmes. So catching, drawing and photographing insects and other wild life might encourage them to become the next Chris Packham if not Bill Oddie.
The compost heap should be full of wonder. Just why does it heat up so much, might it be those pesky bacteria. What are they and how does the composting process work, what comes out at the other end and why is it so good for the garden?
Creating a herb garden should be a delight. The soil doesn't have to be great, and if you don't have much of a garden they can easily be grown in containers.
The herbs are tactile and sensory, so play a blindfold game to see how many they can recognise by touch and smell. The children can also start to learn how to cook with them – anyone for lavender biscuits?
Leaves are everywhere, get the children to collect, identify, dry and put them in a scrapbook. Teach them the function of leaves, photosynthesis and the importance of sunshine, Cover up a patch of grass and, coming back the following week, see how it is has turned yellow.
Build your own sundial, a biro and a piece of cardboard is all you need. The biro can act as the 'gnomon' i.e. the sharp bit that casts a shadow, and then mark the cardboard each hour where the shadow has fallen. This simple device can inform children about the way the earth moves, the planets and ultimately the universe.
Designate part of the garden, preferably a sunny fertile plot, as your children's patch and let them grow what they want, whether this is vegetables, flowers or herbs. Get them to learn responsibility while enjoying everything the garden offers.
I would love to hear your ideas and tips on how you get your children involved in gardening.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.
Zest 4 Leisure manufactures a large variety of timber garden furniture, fencing and leisure products, David Coton visited their brand new nine acre site near Chester last week to find out more about current development and future plans.