Most of them are surprisingly easy to raise from seed, and little trouble to care for.
An ivy collection may be quite out of the ordinary if it includes some of the unique varieties such as Heart, Birdsfoot, Parsley, Crested, Variegated, White-edged, Gold Dust and Red ivies.
Several kinds of fancy-leaved caladium-veined, spotted or margined through a truly exquisite range of pink, red, green and white-would make a diverting project for a child. Buy mixed colors so that the unfurling of the first leaves of every plant will be a surprise. Caladiums are not at all difficult to handle if the dealer's directions are followed.
Coleus has a similar but gaudier charm. It comes quickly and surely from seed. Buy seed from a specialist and you will have all sorts of deviations from the usual gay array, even some exotics in near black and metallic colors.
WINTER BLOSSOMS OUTSIDE
In addition to the coldframe garden suggested in Chapter 13 there are a few other possibilities for actual outdoor winter blossoms.
Vernal witch-hazel is one of these, with tiny yellow flowers appearing any time from January to March. Winter jasmine, given a sheltered location where it will catch the winter sun, will also bloom any time from January to March,
even in quite cold areas. Pussy willow sometimes blooms while snow is still on the ground.
SPRING BLOSSOMS INSIDE
Forcing blossoms of spring-blooming shrubs during the winter may awaken a child's interest in the curious capacities of nature. In addition to the usual bouquets which most adults make, let the youngster arrange his twigs in deep glass containers so they may be seen through the glass.
Select heavily budded twigs; peel bark off ends and slightly crush ends with a hammer. Put an inch or two of sand, gravel, vermiculite or spaghnum moss in the bottom of a glass container. Pour in water up to the surface of this material. Arrange twigs of one or more varieties in the container, and put it in a warm dark place until the buds begin to swell. Then bring it into the light and a place of honor.
Forsythia, blueberry, flowering quince, winter honeysuckle, andromeda, red maple, pussy willow and many other early blooming shrubs and trees will respond to this treatment. Often such cuttings will produce roots. If kept moist in the jars after the flowering is over they can be planted in the garden in the spring.