When I was around 8 or 9 I was given a small plot in my back garden to plant flowers in. I’ve never thought about this before, but my parents showed great trust in me to do this. I’ve always loved nature and plants, and like my fourth child, I showed an early interest in drawing the anatomy of plants and flowers in pencil and enjoyed looking through books on plants and wildlife.
A few years later, before I became a first year, I started a gardening business recruiting my sister and her friend to help out. We weeded gardens and cleaned gates. One woman in Richmond asked us to polish her parquet floor, and I have a strong memory of her husband chasing the chickens round the garden while we cleaned the house. Perhaps the lady wanted to keep us out of the garden and shield us from this event.
We didn’t return to that house because we were “not cleaners but gardeners”, I said to my team.
Marigolds are lovely; tactile, strong plants to grow, with strong stems and tough petals. Great for sensitive autistic children too. They are biannual so you’ll get plenty of seeds. You can dry these out and post them to friends.
They have a strong scent, sturdy stems and don’t respond to touch, like, for example, tulips. So they can be handled. The other good thing about them as first plants to grow for beginners, is that within a week you will see growth from the seeds.
The seeds are curly and larger than most seeds. And the small plants are easy to recognize and to differentiate from weeds, to the untrained eye, unlike other small seedlings.
Because marigold plants give off an abundance of seeds throughout spring, summer, and into autumn, the seeds are never in short supply, so that is another reason to choose these as a first plant for your budding gardeners.
Marigolds need water! It is difficult to over water them, which is great because children love watering.
A month before he died, suddenly, my father sent me some marigold seeds in the post. I’ve harvested those seeds every year from the flowers, and here they are growing in various spots around the garden.
The plants will grow long stems, where there is competition for light.
A spot of orange
Plant French Marigolds next to vegetables to ward off pests.