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.
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.
Attract Wildlife Into Your Garden
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.
Telling the Time
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.