Clumber Gardener: 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾

Clumber Park, Walled Garden picture of Chris Margrave.
Clumber Park, Walled Garden picture of Chris Margrave.

Last month the National Trust launched its 2013 campaign “50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.”

The scheme was set up last year in response to the Natural Childhood report which highlighted evidence of a dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors and aims to reconnect children with the natural world.

There are 50 outdoor activities, including simply climbing a tree, running around in the rain, or skimming a stone.

Two are specifically gardening activities. No. 9 “Eat an apple straight from a tree”, can be a particularly pleasurable experience. The apple variety needs to be a sweet dessert variety, rather than a sour cooking type, ‘Discovery’ in August would be a good choice.

No. 41 “Plant it, grow it, eat it” is more of a challenge. My interest in gardening (I was a late starter, aged 13) began after being bought a “Venus fly trap” and by growing roses and tomatoes at home. The scent of a summer greenhouse, with path freshly damped down, still evokes powerful childhood memories, and, obviously, the taste of a ‘Gardener’s Delight’ eaten straight from the tomato plant is in a different league compared to anything bought from the greengrocer or supermarkets. Pumpkins are another good choice for young gardeners, but they do take several months to mature. For quicker results, radishes and salad leaves such as loose leaf lettuce or the decorative red leaved ‘Lollo Rossa’ can be tried. For more details about “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾” go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk. There will be a National Trust park or garden near you where children can get involved with this.