Who will ever know precisely why an individual child wants a garden of his own? He can be given a charted program and a world of help, and still shun the idea. Propinquity to the family garden may be meaningless, adult encouragement fall on the most indifferent ears. Then again, nongardening parents may be nonplussed by the sudden announcement of an offspring who has been subject to neither prodding nor encouragement that he intends to make a garden.
Where would such a dream originate? Possibly in something the child has overheard, read or observed. Perhaps by some peculiarly private experience or discovery, which in that particular small being set off just the right chain of wants and wishes to lead him, of his own volition, down the path to the garden.
The self-generated urge to garden may be slower. It may also be deeper and steadier than the interest planted, and
occasionally perhaps oversold, by gardening parents. So, if the wonder of plant life has not yet touched your child's imagination, never mind this year's garden, or next year's. There are many meandering, roundabout paths that may in time open up on gardening vistas that will charm him.
THE WORLD OF BOOKS
Reading can be one of these by-paths to gardening. In his early years of reading your child will explore his new talents through a wide range of subjects. Mix in with his other reading a few books that are not forbidding garden books, but rather tales on the outskirts of garden-making. Quite conceivably some of these may send a youngster into the garden for a closer look at nature.
Light-hearted entertainment, a touch of sugar-coated information, and gay illustrations are typical of many nature story-books written especially for very young children. There is a fairytale quality about most of them.
The interest of young boys in particular will be quickly responsive to the startling world of insect and plant life revealed so vividly by the spirited text and excellent photographs (many greatly magnified) in several books by Edwin Way Teale. Look also for the lively presentations of nature's phenomena in books by Rutherford Platt, Donald Culross Peattie and Herbert S. Zim. Many teen-agers will thoroughly enjoy them.
For youngsters who revel in adventure tales, suggest some of the stories by, or about, the great plant explorers. Probably few children realize that no sixteenth century voyage of exploration sailed without a naturalist aboard, and that plant hunters have of necessity been great adventurers. They were shipwrecked, marooned, seized by pirates, menaced by unfriendly savages, and pitted against many other harrowing perils in the course of their search for many of our now-com-
mon garden subjects. (Some of these books are covered in the reading list at the back of this book.)