WASHINGTON — The first official day of summer is here, and many families are making plans to relax and spend time together. If you are looking for inspiration for fun summer activities, consider adding plants and gardening to your plans!
Tending the garden offers valuable family time together (Egerer et al., 2018). As you plant together, there’s time for great conversations and questions! You just might learn things about your family that you didn’t already know, like one family member loves pink flowers while another prefers yellow. As you weed and prune, there’s time to ponder questions. Don’t worry about having all the answers. Reaching out to your local Extension office provides another summer day adventure together. Looking for family garden ideas? Consider a vegetable garden, a pizza garden, gardens for pollinators, a container garden collection, or even a terrarium.
Gardens encourage other families, too! When you’re out tending your gardens or potted plants, you’ll probably meet a neighbor who’s curious about what you are growing. Plants encourage people to greet each other and ask questions, exchange information, or even share tools (Egerer et al., 2018). You just might end up with an extra zucchini shared by another gardener! One family’s example of gardening often encourages other families to start gardens, and sharing knowledge and experiences encourages fellowship and provides a sense of community (Carney et al., 2018).
As you make plans for summer fun in the garden, you may just be making new family traditions. Sharing time together as a family caring for the garden is a great chance to spend time together and interact. This time together supports feelings of relatedness and belongingness (Quested et al., 2018) and can lead to the creation of family traditions (Egerer et al., 2018). Maybe that new tradition is planting something new each season and visiting the garden center or nursery together to make that selection. Perhaps it is packing a picnic lunch and visiting a public garden or an Extension Master Gardener demonstration garden to get ideas. Those special memories will be revisited every time you see that plant or garden!
Regardless of how plants and gardens figure into your family garden activities for the summer, you are sure to gain memorable experiences!
Carney, P.A., Hamada, J.L., Rdesinski, R., Sprager, L., Nichols, K.R., Liu, B.Y., Pelayo, J., Sanchez, M.A. and Shannon, J., 2012. Impact of a community gardening project on vegetable intake, food security and family relationships: a community-based participatory research study. Journal of community health, 37(4), pp.874-881.
Egerer, M., Philpott, S., Bichier, P., Jha, S., Liere, H. and Lin, B., 2018. Gardener well-being along social and biophysical landscape gradients. Sustainability, 10(
Quested, E., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Uren, H., Hardcastle, S.J. and Ryan, R.M., 2018. Community gardening: basic psychological needs as mechanisms to enhance individual and community well-being. Ecopsychology, 10(
–National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture