4 green fingered tips and gardens for families

Enjoy a Cornish garden with your family c Matt Jessop

Our friends at Octopus, the Cornish magazine for families, have caught up with gardeners from 4 family favourite gardens in Cornwall to pick their brains on gardening and find out a bit more about their gardens. For more what’s on tips and indoor play ideas visit www.octopusmag.com for the latest issue of Octopus Magazine.

Trebah, Mawnan Smith
When it comes to being the ideal family garden Trebah, situated in a sheltered valley on the Helford River, has it all. Here you can take things at a pace that suits your family; toddle with toddlers to Fort Stewart, a play area for the under 5s, and then explore the garden via one of the buggy friendly routes before making sand castles on the beach. There is an award winning café serving homemade family lunches as well as some delicious home baked cakes and warming hot chocolate.
Head Gardener Darren Dickey says the most important essential in any family garden is to get the kids growing. Be it flowers or vegetables, following the process from seed to end product is both educational and rewarding, and even better if you can eat it. Darren also pointed out the merits of encouraging wildlife into your garden as this is often a hook that can get children inspired and outside. Nesting boxes, bat boxes and even bug hotels are a fun and interactive addition to any garden.

Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth
This free to visit public garden is a secret gem nestled between the town centre and beach and within easy walking distance of the train station. Little ones can explore the natural play area (based on local legend of sea  monster Morgawr), the upper lawn area is large, green and enclosed so is ideal for little children to run around and play safely.  The lower gardens get more exciting with shell grottos and tunnels to the seafront to explore.

Gyllyngdune’s onsite gardener Matt Stannard, a father of two under 10’s, recognises the importance of getting children outdoors and interacting with nature in green spaces. 
Matt’s planting suggestion:  “Growing plants from seeds is a nice, really inexpensive activity you can do with your children. A packet of seeds costs pence to buy, or you could encourage the whole family to save the seeds from apples or other fruit and veg and try planting these up (this is also a good way to get those 5 a day!) You can spend some time making your own seed pots from old newspaper, another great low cost option, and these can even be planted directly into the ground, container and all, when the plant comes along.”

The Eden Project, St Austell
There is so much for families at the Eden Project. As well as the jaw-dropping scale of the Biomes themselves and the largest indoor rainforest in the world, you’ll discover all kinds of imaginative play areas, trails, hideaways, willow tunnels and stepping stones together with a year-round programme of events created with families in mind.

Hetty Ninnis is a Rainforest Biome Supervisor and has been a keen gardener all her life. “The garden isn’t just about growing – it’s about enjoying being outside, climbing, getting dirty, making secret places that fire the imagination, discovering and learning to appreciate nature. You don’t have to have a big garden. The thrill of finding worms or tadpoles is the first step towards understanding our relationship with nature – and, of course, that is what Eden is all about.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
In a beautiful sheltered valley with woods, stream and dramatic vistas, Tremenheere is the perfect setting for large scale exotic and sub-tropical planting which offers an exciting open space for families to enjoy with its lush vegetation and larger than life evolving programme of high quality contemporary art installations. It’s inspirational, contemplative and a joy to visit for the whole family.

Tremenheere point out that it doesn’t matter what size plot you may have, whether it’s acres or a small sunny windowsill, or how much time you have to spare, even the busiest families can have a go at growing a little fruit, veg or flowers from seed. Seed packs are relatively inexpensive and once the kids realize that making them grow involves one of their favourite ingredients - mud! - there’s no stopping them. Some great flowers to get started on are sunflowers, cornflowers, cosmos and nasturtiums, they only take a short time to germinate and give a flamboyant reward once they flower. Good fruit & veg options to get started with are strawberries, peas (if you have a little bit of outdoor space) and carrots. These are all particularly good as when they are ready to pick the kids can eat them straight away (or maybe with a little rinse under the tap first in some cases!)

Do you have a favourite family friendly garden in Cornwall? Have you had any success in turning your garden into a budding growing place for your kids to experiment? Share your hints and tips with us via Facebook in the space below: