Put away the winter gloves and pull out the gardening gloves! Now is the perfect time to get kids excited about gardening. And you don’t even need a lot of space to grow beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables.
Gardening with your little ones can be both fun and educational, and there are several places that offer ideas, inspiration and instruction—right here in Chicagoland.
The Lurie Garden in the southeast corner of Millennium Park is steps away from skyscrapers and really exemplifies the concept of “urban gardening.” It’s great for a one-time visit focused on discovering everything in the garden, and you can download a worksheet online that’s aimed at kids 3-6 to help guide your visit.
The garden also offers two great programs for little ones. Little Lurie Gardeners begins on May 9 and aims to get children 1-3 singing, dancing and smelling the flowers. Little Lurie Scientists is a new program teaching about the science behind the beauty of the Lurie Garden. It’s aimed at kids 3-5 and begins on May 10. The programs meet weekly for six weeks and pre-registration is required.
A trip to the zoo can also be a chance to learn about gardening! Edible Gardens in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo complex opens to the public on April 1 and visitors can stop by on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. As a program of the Green City Market, the goal of the garden is to give kids a hands-on education in where their food comes from, and to ensure that families have the knowledge, experience and inspiration to help create a sustainable food system.
The Chicago Botanic Garden offers plenty of gardening inspiration, and the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden is specifically designed to teach kids about gardening. In its 10,000 square feet of space, kids can both see what plants look like as they grow in demonstration beds that are maintained by horticulturalists, and get involved in the care and keeping of plants in the learning beds, which are the perfect height for young gardeners. In addition, weekend classes and camps for kids are great ways to kids excited about gardening.
Not only can you find lots of growing and gardening inspiration at Morton Arboretum, the experts there are ready to help you and your kids launch your garden with their Arbor Day sale, which includes a selection of perennials, herbs and vegetables. The sale runs April 29-May 1. On April 29, visitors dressed like a tree get free admission and kids can help Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat plant a tree after story time at 11 a.m.
Once you have your garden up and growing, if you run into any problems, the Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic can help with pests, disease and other concerns. Visit the good folks in their office across from the visitor’s center, or reach them at (630) 719-2424.
Now get digging!