Adults with gardens in their youthful backgrounds remember that gardens are full of flowers and plants important to make-believe play. Search your memory for garden whimsies of your own childhood, and include some of these playtime plant materials in the child's own garden.
Shirley poppy dolls have amused generations of little girls. As you may recall, petals are turned back around the stem and tied with a blade of grass to make a sash around the waist. Features are pricked in the head with a pin, the milky juice quickly darkening to give the proper effect. The hair is ready-made by the dark stamens. Stems stuck into the body provide arms and the missing leg. (One leg, of course, is the stem of the flower itself.)
Ballerina dolls are made from double hollyhocks. The frilly blossoms secured around old-fashioned wooden clothespins make properly perky skirts, and the split ends of the clothespin serve as the long toe-dancing legs.
Gardens are full of things to wear. Marigolds are perfect for stringing on heavy thread to make very credible Hawaiian leis. Flower necklaces composed of single blossoms of tube-flowers can be constructed by careful pushing of the end of one long throat into the opening of another until the chain is of the desired length. The closing is made by sticking the end of the last blossom into the throat of the first. Morning glories, trumpet vine blossoms, larkspurs, delphinium and nasturtiums all lend themselves to this type of necklace.
The plumosa varieties of cockscomb make elegant plumes for garden hats. The hats themselves are any large leaves, pinned together. Rhubarb leaves do very well.
Beads for real necklaces and bracelets grow on a number of plants. Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), a plant that grows like a weed and reseeds itself unrestrainedly, has silvery bead-like seeds, actually used for making rosaries in war years. The seeds of the turquoise-berry vine (Ampelopsis brevipeduncu-lata) are a brilliant turquoise, not permanent, but lovely for temporary jewelry making. Lily-turf (Liriope spicata) produces jet-black seeds. Rose hips, too, can be made into jewelry. They may also be made into "tinker toys," using fine wire and a touch of imagination.
GAMES AND FANCIES
Dozens of flowers enter into imaginative play. You will remember snapdragons, whose jaws can be made to snap, foxgloves to try on tiny fingers and violets for the tug-of-war game
(tugging with linked heads). Nasturtiums shimmer with diamonds when held under water. Pansy-face "paper-dolls" are laid out on the lawn and costumed with leaves and flower petals. Buttercups have the answer for the "do you like butter?" test.