When I tasked Mr Rixon with the project of constructing a sandpit two summers ago I had pictured long afternoons of the children happily making sandcastles side by side while I got on with other stuff. But right now I’m having to dash outside every two minutes to prevent the garden from being covered in sand. Josephine simply can’t resist picking up handfuls of the stuff and flinging it far and wide. It ends up everywhere: borders, lawn, containers, her sister’s pants…
The sand level inside the sandpit has dropped by half. The decking has become a boardwalk and the patio has become a beach which, on sunny days when the paddling pool comes out, is transformed into mudflats.
Sharp sand mixed into heavy clay soil along with perlite or vermiculite might help to improve the drainage, but fine beach sand? Not so much. In fact, a dollop of play sand on the top of the soil might have the opposite effect because the small particles are easily compressed.
Meanwhile, Gwendolyn is busying herself in the garden making mud pies and magic potions. She is having great fun pretending to be the witch from Room on the Broom, finding little bits and bobs to go into her ‘cauldron’: a pine cone, a leaf, a twig, a soggy chalk left out in the rain, a snail shell (occupant optional).
She’s also been helping me repot house plants and sow loads of seeds, as well as baking cakes and puddings in the kitchen. (We’ve got into the habit of having a pudding at teatime every day so must make an effort to do PE with Joe each morning to counteract the effects.)
Anyway, I think all the gardening, potion-making and cooking have got mixed up in her mind so she’s become a little confused. The other day she presented me with a container containing a geranium leaf, a daisy, a sprig of oregano, a sycamore seed, a ‘lemon’ (hypericum bud!) and a poppy seedling then proudly declared: ‘Mummy, I’ve grown you a new plant’.
Heavens, if anything new survives in this garden it’ll be a miracle!
At least I can always count on the girls to give the garden a good watering, even if they do tend to water themselves more than the plants.
What’s your experience of gardening with toddlers?