Flower Motif Mats to Interest the Kids in Gardening

Would you like to get your small children interested in gardening using a creative yet easy technique?  Have you seen gardens or plots where gardeners make a picture, image, word, logo, or other artistic motif on the ground using flowers?  Would you like to do this yourself, or do it with your kids or grandchildren?  It is fairly easy to do and allows you and yours to show off your creativity.  All it takes is imagination, a few inexpensive flowers seeds, colored markers, water and newspaper.

Butterfly design for flower motif mat.
First decide how large you want your motif to be and what type of image you might like.  This will be drawn on newspaper so you may want to limit the size to a doubled sheet or a single page.  It may help to determine if you want a picture or if you prefer to put a name in the flowering area.  Then spread out the appropriate size newspaper and draw the image outline or write the word using thick lettering.  This is kids can get really creative, you should suggest they use 2 or three colors in their outline.

After the image is drawn, you will need to purchase seeds to go into the outline.  Annual flower seeds will work best since you may want to do something different the next year.  Be sure to purchase seeds in various colors that will grow to the same height and bloom at the dame time.  The image size should also be your guide in how many seed packets to purchase.  It is better to have too many since you can sprinkle the leftover elsewhere.  If you really want the image to stand out, you may want to buy seeds to go around the image as well to frame it. 

Working inside or outside protected from the wind, start building your motif mat.  Put down a few extra sheets of newspaper to add thickness for transporting your mat later.  Put your drawn design sheet on top of those.  Place the flower seeds in the image outline where you want each type or color of flower to grow.  You should space the seeds according to the packet instructions or a little closer to get a fuller flowering, but do not overcrowd.  If you are having a child space the seeds, you should give them something to use as a measuring device.  Typically a small toy or using their thumb between seeds works well for measuring the necessary spacing.  After seeds are in place, lightly mist them with water to dampen the newspaper.  Then place a single newspaper sheet of the same size on top of the seeds and mist it to cause the papers to stick together.  This forms your mat so seeds do not move out of place when you transport the mat to the area of the garden you plan to place it in. 

Gently move the damp mat to the garden.  You may want to transport it on a tray, poster-board, or wooden board to keep it from breaking when you carry it.  Then slide it off the carrier into the prepared area outside.  You will need to place some top soil on top of the mat in order to keep it from blowing away.  Make the soil layer slightly deeper than the planting depth indicated on the seed packet and make sure all paper is completely covered going past the edges.  Water the seed mat regularly using a watering can or hose-end sprinkler.  Letting a child do the watering keeps them interested and allows them to see every stage of their flower growth.  Be sure to monitor the watering so they do not flood the plants. 
TIP:  If you want to cut out the design, then do so before creating the mat by cutting through at least 6 sheets of newspaper with the design sheet on top.  This multi-layer cutting might be difficult for a child to do evenly through several sheets, so an adult must do this or keep it the image on square sheets. 

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