The World of Make-Believe

Daisies (any kind) have always inspired a lot of petal-pulling for the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not game. And, of course, they make wonderful sunbonnet babies and rabbit heads with the aid of a pair of blunt scissors or some judicious pinching and pulling of petals.

Perhaps the most enchanting memory of all is the little sunken picture-garden constructed in a sandpile. Here you scooped out a little hollow and arranged small bright blossoms on a leaf background. This was covered with a pane of glass, sand was carefully pushed back to cover the edges, and a frame of small stones laid around it. To childish eyes, gazing at this little three-dimensional picture was like peering into one of those miraculous diorama Easter eggs.

For a whole summer's enjoyment you might supervise the building of a playhouse from growing plant material. Some­thing tall like sunflowers or tithonia can be closely planted to enclose a small area, with a space left open on one side for a door.

You may be tempted to use the highly touted castor bean plant because it grows so tall and so fast. It is well, however, to remember that the seeds of this plant are deadly poison if eaten, and it would be dangerous to include it in a child's garden.

Cuttings of forsythia or willow, both of which root and grow quickly, could be used for a more permanent structure. They should be planted only about three or four inches apart. Side branches would have to be cut off after growth starts.

Weaving a few willow branches horizontally through the plants as they grow will give the walls stability.

Morning glories, scarlet runner beans, or any other quick-growing vine, can be planted around the sides to grow up the wall, or just trained to frame the doorway. A "foundation planting" might be made of kochia, which grows quickly and simulates shrubbery very well. Then add a little dooryard garden of low-growing flowers like ageratum, sweet alyssum, baby zinnias, dwarf marigolds or nasturtiums.

If the little house is substantial enough to go through another season, plans should be made for season-long color in the gardens surrounding it. For early spring any of the small-flowering bulbs (see Chapter 2) would be suitable. For late spring things like sweet William and forget-me-nots would fill in until the suggested summer annuals take over. Many late-blooming annuals like California poppies and petunias will keep the color going until a few chrysanthemums start their post-frost display.