It is a great honour for me to be involved in this year’s National Children’s Gardening Week. It is a subject that, for those of you that know me, is very close to my heart.

The project has been growing from strength to strength since its inception by Neil Grant and I’m sure this year it will continue to expand. Also, its important involvement in supporting the amazing Greenfingers charity is a really exciting development.

Gardening is such a natural activity for a child to take part in, and I feel its speaks volumes that in the 12 odd years I’ve been going into schools to teach gardening, literally thousands of them, not one child has objected to being involved. It makes me believe that deep down we are all gardeners at heart.

Gardening’s also highly effective at a number of things.  It’s a practical educational tool that ties up ‘I am growing plants’ with maths, science, art and exercise. A family activity, a day out at a garden, garden centre or park are all quality and valuable family time. Planning projects together around our outdoor spaces be it in schools, in the garden or the balcony is a top way to spend time and National Children’s Gardening Week will provide as many inspirational ideas and advice as we can muster.

I’ve found over my time working with kids that it helps to approach them on their own territory. It’s good to let them drive the project. They often have the best ideas and they easily have the most fertile imaginations. Let them design a space in the garden or school. Find out what they would like to see in the garden. Outdoor spaces are magical places that change on a daily basis due to the presence of plants a nature. Children should feel excited about going outdoors, every trip should be one of discovery.

If you’re unsure how to get the ball rolling, we are here to help. Have a look at our website ‘Things to do’ section to kick things off. You may want to organise a gardening party to bring your community together. Or you might want to hook up with a local garden centre to discuss an event or project you’d like to partake in. We will be publishing small projects that can easily be done and in short time, so look out for the Pizza Wheel, Edible hanging baskets and more besides. You may have some excellent ideas of your own, if so we would love to hear them. There are also Facebook pages, Instagram and twitter on which we would love to see the photos of gardening projects, NCGW events and even just good old shots of our future gardeners in action.

I’ll be looking with relish at all the great work that will be done in his year’s NCGW and will be reporting on it over the coming months, so please do let us know what you are up to or if you seek advice.

In the meantime, happy gardening.

About Chris Collins

Chris Collins is one of the UK’s most passionate and recognised gardeners. Chris started as an apprentice gardener with Brighton parks department. In 2002 Chris entered the world of television and secured his own series on BBC 2 , called 'The Plantsman'. Since then he’s appeared on TV programmes including his own documentary Wonder of Weeds. He’s also appeared as a judge on 'Young Gardener of the Year'.

From 2004 until 2013 he was the Blue Peter gardener keeping an eye on one of the country’s most famous gardens.

In 2007 Chris was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh medal for his services to horticulture and was part of the team that won a silver medal at Chelsea in 2010 with 'the garden that kids really want'.

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