Wednesday 17 July 2013

Making the Most of the Garden

Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing this post, but all words, thoughts, feelings, great ideas and full stops are mine.

Our garden has always been a bit of eyesore. The path is gravelled, and looks awful. The beds are overly big and in constant need of weeding. The plants are green most of the year and then crazily beautiful but for only about two weeks, then the garden turns green once more. The worst thing about our garden is the lack of privacy. The fences are low, wire mesh things which barely act as a partition and certainly don’t keep out prying eyes. On one side, the fence is hidden by a line of bushes and so privacy isn’t really a problem, but the other side has always felt exposed.

Our elderly neighbour, who can often be found in the front garden muttering “sick to the back teeth of ‘em,” about the kids who play on the front street, sits in her back room. Right at the window. So if I’m in the garden, she’s there too. I’m not used to the lack of privacy because my parents’ garden was always enclosed and cut off from the outside world. So, earlier in the year when  we came across a little bit of extra money, we decided to invest in some fencing.

It has been a long labour of love, and still isn’t quite finished, but we now have a proper fence (well, three quarters of one at least). Our garden is now private, and since I’ve been stuck at home with a poorly toddler for over a week, we’ve been making the most of our garden to soak up some of the sunshine. Here's how I've been enjoying my garden this summer, whilst still keeping the toddler entertained:

Now that the garden is somewhere I want to be, I’ve started trying to tackle the weeds. Yeah, there’s a lot of them. Ebony has been helping too, well, ok sometimes she’s just been ripping flowers out of the ground, but she’s trying. Ebony has a toy wheelbarrow, spade, fork and watering can that she uses while I’m gardening. She takes great pride in watering the flowers (and gravel), and loves carting gravel around in her wheelbarrow while making a “beep beep” sound. There’s a small patch of soil that is yet to be covered in lawn, so we’ve stationed Ebony’s bucket and spade there so she can get involved with digging.

Ball games
I think pretty much all kids love balls, and Ebony is no exception. Footballs, beach balls, plastic balls and tennis balls are never hard to find in our garden. Ebony loves kicking the balls around, playing catch and even playing fetch with herself. Our rabbit has some boredom buster toys too, and she loves rolling those across the garden for the rabbit to chase.

Paddling pool
I bought our paddling pool in winter, and waited patiently for a splinter in the clouds so I could claim it was hot enough to inflate the pool. I couldn’t wait for Ebony to play in a paddling pool for the first time. Our pool is quite big, so it’s a good size for a playdate, and we have lots of bath toys and pourers in there to explore. I always use warm water from the tap to fill the pool, because the hose water is too cold and Ebony won’t stay in as long if she’s chilly.

Recycled toys
Children can find joy out of pretty much anything, so I like giving Ebony a variety of recycled materials to play with. In the paddling pool, she has a few empty bottles and tubs and pouring. In fact, the old bubble bath bottle is one of her favourite things to play with in water. She loves filling it up and pouring it out again. Whenever we get a cardboard box, I try to make something fun for her out of that too (obviously not for in the paddling pool though). This week we had quite a large box, so I used it to make her a ramp for her cars. She had fun hurling the cars down the ramp, and then clambering into and out of the box.

Ebony loves animals. We have a rabbit in the garden, and he loves (and needs) a lot of human interaction. Luckily for him, Ebony is his biggest fan and would happily move into his hutch with him given half a chance. She loves feeding him, stroking him, playing with his balls and filling his water bowl up. There are also quite a few neighbourhood cats who frequent our garden, and Ebony goes crazy for them too. She follows them around saying, “Tsh tsh tsh Kitty”. I always point out insects to her too, bees, spiders and snails are all observed with fascination.

Climbing frame
Sadly, we don’t really have the room for a climbing frame in our current garden, but I hope we’ll get one in our next house. I had a climbing frame growing up and I loved it, my sister and I could easily spend whole afternoons playing in the garden. We had a swing, climbing frame and a beautiful wooden wendy house. I hope one day we have the space to offer Ebony as many garden toys to explore. I think Ebony would love this play centre from All Garden Fun. Whenever we go to the park, she runs straight over to the over 7’s area and shimmies straight up to the top of the climbing frame. It is truly terrifying.

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