Assist Your Children Blossom By Cultivating an Early Curiosity in Gardening


Three generations show their craftsmanship: Beth Winters (center left) with mother Carol Corbin, Eleanor (left) and Evelyn Winters.

Önice day In the summer of 2020, young Eleanor Winters happily hops through the gardens behind her Rochester Hills home. “We have monarchs, many monarchs,” she tells her mother. Then Eleanor, 9, goes to a vegetable patch where pumpkins grow “from the seeds we have planted”! she shares with unbridled joy.

Eleanor’s enthusiasm is contagious. It was planted years ago by her mother Beth Winters and grandmother Carol Corbin from Troy. Eleanor’s sister Evelyn, 7, also loves gardening.

“The girls’ favorite is our strawberry field,” says Winters, a teacher in the Rochester Community School District. “They also love going to the gardening stores and choosing their own yearbooks.” Favorites include local shops like Fogler’s Greenhouse in Rochester, Telly’s Greenhouse in Troy, Eckert’s Greenhouse and Perennials in Sterling Heights, and Piechnik’s Greenhouse and Garden in Oakland.

Meanwhile, Ryan Youngblood and his wife (along with their children, ages 5, 7, and 10) have been exploring the vegetable garden at their Oakland Township home. “We use the vegetable garden as a means to teach children about the basics of basic life and absolute needs [to have certain] These are key elements in making life exist and go on, ”said Youngblood, owner of R. Youngblood & Co., a Rochester landscaping company. “You can also see where the food is coming from, and it’s the beginning of teaching them the value of hard work and the rewards that come with it.”

Involving children in gardening could be one of the best things parents and grandparents can do for their children’s development, according to experts. “Children who grow and grow food with their families are adventurous eaters, and it has been proven,” says Dr. Molly O’Shea, a pediatrician from Bloomfield Hills. “I share that very much with my parents. There are so many benefits to children when it comes to gardening, and especially when it comes to vegetable gardening.

“As a child of any age begins to learn where their food comes from, their willingness to experiment with food increases. Gardening also gives them responsibility; They learn to take care of something, ”says O’Shea from Beverly Hills, who immersed her own children in the vegetable garden as adults. She suggests that gardening also teaches children about failure. “Not everything we plant turns out, and that’s fine. These are life lessons. “

Backyard gardening - youth activitiesEvelyn and Eleanor Winters are playful in their garden.

Lindsay Pielack, co-director of Keep Growing Detroit, agrees, noting that gardening is a great teacher for childhood development: “Gardening can teach anything from small motor skills to adult relationships to understanding of the natural world. “Pielack suggests that families visit the KGD website (see below)) to find activities they can do at home, whether they have a yard or not. The Detroit-based organization envisions a city where most of the fruits and vegetables consumed by Detroiters are grown by residents within the city limits. Last year, KGD supported nearly 1,950 gardens in Detroit through its garden resource program. “And of those 1,050 were backyard family gardens,” she says.

At Michigan State University, Ellen Koehler, education coordinator for the MSU Extension’s Tollgate Farm and Education Center, knows all about the benefits of having a green thumb child. “There are not only useful aspects for growing our own food and understanding where it comes from, but also purely therapeutic aspects for gardening,” says Koehler. “Working with the soil and plants and spending time outdoors is extremely beneficial.”

She and her team recently launched the HomeGrown Gardening Series for families and individuals who want to explore the vegetable garden together. An upcoming session is called Growing Fun with Kids.

In the meantime, the Winters family is excited to see their backyard bloom again. This year, the family’s gardens can be toured during the Troy Garden Club’s 46th Garden Walk in July. “My mother’s gardens were presented during the 2013 hike,” says Winters. “So I’m going to be following in their footsteps this summer.”

Visitors will see Beth’s beautiful flowers, as well as Eleanor and Evelyn’s pretty spots, including strawberries, tomatoes, lemon thyme, pumpkins, zucchini, chives, and other greens that “we add to our smoothies,” says Eleanor.

One of the family’s favorite highlights is the Eleanor Lily. “I’ve been growing daylilies for years and I add one more every year,” says Winters. She bought the Eleanor variety – a yellow-red-purple beauty – because she has the same name as her daughter and grandmother. There is also a bright yellow one called Colossal Carol, which is reminiscent of her mother. And there are also fluffy pink peonies that came from her great-grandmother’s garden and were given to her by her grandmother. “[My grandmothers] live in the spirit in my garden, ”she says.

Metro Detroit events and activities to keep your thumb green

Garden walks, online programs and advice from experts

Backyard gardening - youth activitiesThe impressive flowers of Beth Winters will be seen on the Garden Walk of the Troy Garden Club in July.

Help: Detroit Abloom, an organic cut flower farm, florist, and nursery for native plants, is planning Kids Abloom, a discovery garden for children, in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood of Detroit. Volunteers can help build the new garden, which features bean-covered tipis and tunnel structures, a butterfly garden, and more. 313-587-2446,

Learn the life cycle: MSU Tollgate Farm 4-Hs Follow the Nutrient Trail Virtual Interactive Adventure invites kids to follow the nutrient trail of consumers, producers, and decomposers as they meet goats, chickens – and worms! During a visit to the garden, the orchard and the animal barn, the students examine how the sun’s energy drives the nutrient cycle. April 26-30. Registration:

How it happens: The plants from MSU Tollgate Farm 4-H and their partner Virtual Interactive Adventure asks children the following questions: How do plants grow and how do they depend on other living beings? During a visit to the garden, greenhouse, fields and animal barn, students will examine pollination and seed distribution. 3rd-7th May, 5-5 June 1st registration:

Multi-sensory green scene: Michigan State University’s 4-H kindergartens in East Lansing, open daily from sunrise to sunset, feature dozens of themes from birds to kitchens to pioneer and butterfly gardens. More information:

Growth experience: Keep Growing Detroit offers Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck residents a gardening resource program that provides nearly everything families need (seeds, plants, and education) to garden at home. The organization also runs regular opening hours and days of fun for the whole family on their farm. (Due to COVID-19, organizers cannot confirm when the hours and fun days for the family will return. Check the website regularly.) Additional information: 313-656-4769,

Expert advice: is a great resource for information and offers weekly webinars. There is also an area on the site designed to stimulate children’s interest in gardening. It is run by longtime professional gardeners Janet Macunovich and Steven Nikkila. Further information: 248-681-7850,

Take a tour: Enjoy the Troy Garden Club’s 46th Garden Walk on July 14th. The tour features seven private gardens in the Troy area. This year’s event is called Anniversary Gardens in honor of the club’s 50th anniversary. Associated activities include an art fair at Troy Historic Village, where artists showcase garden-themed creations. A must for children in the village is the charming kindergarten, where a path leads through marked plants whose names represent the letters of the alphabet. More information: 248-540-6158,