For The Youngest Beginner

In a very few weeks the youngster will have a living illustration of one of his favorite stories. Perhaps you can work out others. Chapter 17 offers a number of other ideas that could be adapted for the winter entertainment of the younger child.

One of the most successful garden play devices for the young gardener is a sizable outdoor garden play bench, on which all sorts of landscaping effects can be worked out. This should be built off the ground at a comfortable working height, against a garage wall or fence, with a shallow box on top to hold five or six inches of soil. It can be as long as you wish, but no wider than an easy reach for its small owner. Here the land may be contoured to suit the fancy, with mountains, hills, cliffs, ravines, and so on. It may represent something like a park, farm, backyard or forest, and include such things as roads, paths, boulders, beaches, lakes, streams and fences. In this box can be grown a lot of things: real grass to be clipped by hand, seedling trees, dwarf plants like lobelia, sweet alyssum, miniature roses and Dahlberg daisies. Small toy houses, trains, automobiles, animals and people will bring it to life.

As a prelude to the first adventure in gardening you can indulge in some outright propaganda. Spend a few winter evenings with your young prospect, talking up and dreaming up the garden-to-be. Let him look through color-illustrated seed catalogs with you. Give him last year's catalogs and per­mission to cut out pictures. You might even draw up rough plans together with colored crayons. Buy him one of the good garden story or nature books written especially for young children. And for bedtime stories occasionally work in one of the delightful old flower legends, which are definitely in the fairy-tale class. Chapter 10 contains a sampling of such tales.

The first garden, it is said, is like one's first love-never quite forgotten. It is up to you to make it worth remembering.