Grow an educational veg garden
My children are nurturing various plants at the moment; potatoes in black plastic grow bags; sunflower seeds sent to them by their grandparents’ neighbour, and a stone planter filled with thyme and rosemary.
For inspiration, mother-of-two Anna Burles, founder of design house Run For The Hills, suggested logging on to Studio Cultivate, which is running virtual kids’ gardening lessons during lockdown. “We’re cultivating tomato seeds in the airing cupboard which we’ll plant in the garden,” she says.
Adults can create a more sophisticated cutting garden or veg patch in large pots on a balcony, windowsill or terrace, says Wakefield. She grows herbs, lettuce, tulips, cosmos and zinnias in terracotta pots from Pots and Pithoi (potsandpithoi.com), along with chrysanthemums, which are having a moment this year.
Don’t forget to add some scented shrubs to your cutting garden, she says; the pink flowered Syringa ‘Red Pixie’ or a mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius).
Set up a forest school
A muddy, forgotten corner of your garden is the perfect place for an outdoor classroom; my children, meanwhile, have been creating sand monsters and castles in a makeshift sandpit created from some leftover builders’ sand, while Schofield has created a forest school area for her son with bits of wood, mud, trucks and boxes.
“He creates mini worlds out there, which change daily,” she says. “It’s amazing watching his ideas come to life.”
According to Burles, pebbles painted with the alphabet are a great way to introduce phonics, while according to Alice Clark, founder of the Willow on the Farm nursery school, making fairy potions, mud pies and foraging are all forest school activities that can be enjoyed in your garden.
For forest school inspiration see forestschoolassociation.org
Make space for creativity
Being outside is a perfect excuse to get messy, says Pooley. “You can feel liberated to play around with paints and other craft materials.” Our neighbours were kind enough to give the boys some poster paints and old wallpaper, which has inspired some larger, Jackson Pollock-style paintings – on hot days they like to strip off and paint in their pants.
Burles has invested in garden mirror boards for her children’s area outside. “They bounce the light and make the children’s space seem even larger,” she says. “And they’re perfect for home-schooling outside.”
Adults can also use outside space as a creative studio: try painting, drawing or craft, suggests Pooley. “Lockdown is the perfect time to learn a new skill,” she says.