Special to The Courier
First, let’s not use the words “botany” and “horticulture,” and disguise it as fun instead.
The plant kingdom is so vast that it’s as easy as finding out how plants fit in to what kids are already interested in. You know what their favorite animals are, so find out how these animals need and use plants in their lives. Favorite places like a park are filled with plant life. Get the senses involved touching foliage with different colors and textures. Smell flowers for fragrances. Keep an eye out for any flowers that are attracting butterflies or hummingbirds. Sample the different flavored herbs in the garden. State and national parks have appealing ways of showing how the unique flora is important to the park.
Desert Botanical Gardens and Tuscan Botanical Gardens put on fun exhibits, like a butterfly exhibit and special events for children. Festivals geared toward plants, animals, fruits or blossoms are always going on in the state and will make for an adventure.
Enjoy the cool weather on a nature walk at the Arboretum in Flagstaff. Most college campuses have arboretums to visit.
“A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona” by Anne Orth Epple is a great book to have handy on a hike or any other outdoor activity in the state. Color pictures of flowers are used to identify native plants and the descriptions are specified to Arizona. Books are always a good idea and there are a plethora of children’s and interactive books about many different aspects of botany.
If you want to get kids to spend time in the garden, try giving them they their own space to plant what they want. Get them their own garden tools and gear to use. Have them keep a journal of the growth with their own digital camera or by making colorful illustrations. Harvesting is the peak of the veggie garden experience, make sure you include them. Make what they would like to eat with the harvest. Prepare the dishes together and share the gratification from making a meal you all started from plant to finish.
Tyler Kirckof is an Arizona-certified nursery professional at Prescott Valley Nursery, 6195 Highway 69, Prescott Valley, Arizona, (928) 772-0878.