Last spring we all spent a lot more time in the garden—maybe for the first time. This year, keep your kids gardening with plants and accessories that not only thrive in our temperate climate but show your city spirit too. From Zoo Doo to sporty gnomes, your kids will really dig these Seattle garden must-haves.

photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

1. Zoo Doo
While Woodland Park Zoo's Zoo Doo Compost has "serious gardener" written all over it, we think it also screams "kid!" After all who else can appreciate the commingling of rhino, giraffe, hippo and zebra poop better than a toddler? Families can find Zoo Doo in two-gallon ($25) and pint-sized buckets ($6.95) at the ZooStore year-round.

2. Pacific Rhododendron
Colorful and oh-so-easy to grow, Rhododendron belong in Seattle gardens. Not only is it the state flower, but it also announces the arrival of spring with a much-needed pop of color.

3. Pollinators
Make your house a home for mason bees this year. These gentle bees pollinate fruit trees and bushes at a rate 100 times that of honeybees, and including them in your Seattle garden is as easy as renting them in spring. Help your garden grow and help your kids connect to the food they eat—that's a win-win!

4. Fairies
Did you know that the original miniature garden maker lives in Seattle, and that she used to work at Swanson's Nursery? It's true. Local author Janit Calvo is all about installing a small garden in your big one, and we couldn't think of a better way to entice your kiddos to exercise their green thumb. Before you build your fairy garden, get inspired by these imaginative environs.


5. A Spirited Garden Gnome
If you've got fairies in your garden, you may as well invite a gnome to live there too. If he's wearing Seahawks colors, you know he'll fit right in. Now to track down a Seattle Storm gnome—anyone got a lead?

6. A Rain Gauge
They say it rains here. But are they right? Find out how much when you place a simple rain gauge in your garden. Shhh... don't tell the kids, but taking daily, weekly or monthly measurements adds extra science to your garden growing experience.

7. Your Beach Combing Treasures
If you've been trying to figure out where, oh where to put your little beach bum's pocketed treasures, why not try the garden? It's the perfect spot to arrange sea glass, special rocks and seashells kids collect after a day tide pooling or sandcastle building.

8. Scented Ground Covers
Because you can only remind your kiddos so many times that "flowers are fragile," plant durable ground covers that can survive a toddler's busy feet walking over them. And if they're scented—even better. Corsican mint, dwarf chamomile and many thymes release fragrant scents when touched or walked on. This fascinating feature will surely keep your little gardener's attention.  

9. "Attractive" Plants 
Make your garden come alive with butterflies and hummingbirds. Attract them by planting colorful blooms they can't resist. Hummingbirds love orange and red hues you'll find in bleeding hearts, honeysuckle and fuchsia. Butterflies look for colorful flowers that easily grow in our climate, like sunflowers, lantana, lupine and johnny jump-ups.

10. Things to Eat
Whether you've got a container on your deck, a raised bed in your backyard or a P-Patch plot in your neighborhood, planting fruits and veggies are what summer gardens are all about. Strawberries, tomatoes and simple herbs that kids can grow and eat makes gardening an exciting way to spend the day. Not sure where to start or what to plant? Check out Swanson's vegetable gardening resources to get started.

—Allison Sutcliffe


Let It Grow: Community Gardens, Classes & Camps for Little Sprouts

Find Your Zen at These 11 Botanical Gardens

Oh Snap! 9 Places to Find Picture-Perfect Spring Blooms

10 Secluded Spots to Enjoy Your Summer Picnic

11 Easy Ideas for Gardening with Kids (No Green Thumb Required)