Here are some simple and easy activities for you to do with the kids:
Another activity for kids is to grow a hyacinth bulb in the top of a bottle. All you will need is a good-sized bulb, and a jar or bottle whose top is just about the right diameter for the bulb to sit on top. Fill the jar with water until it is just below the base of the bulb, and keep it topped up by carefully lifting the bulb and pouring water into the top. The roots of the bulb will grow down into the water and eventually the bulb will produce a flower.
Hyacinth bulbs can also be grown in a pot indoors. In order to develop a good flower stem, it is helpful to keep the pot in a dark cupboard, or covered with an upside-down pot until the shoot emerges. Then gradually introduce the hyacinth to more light as its shoot develops.
Never place your indoor bulb into direct sunlight or subject it to indoor heating. These stresses will spoil the flowering before it even starts to happen.
One word of warning: hyacinth bulbs have a special irritant in their scaly outer skin that can cause itchiness. Always wash hands well after touching hyacinth bulbs or, preferably, handle the bulbs with gloves.
Strelitzia (bird of paradise). This plant has colourful flowers that look like exotic birds on top of stiff stems.
Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica). This plant has become a dreadful weed in northern Australia but can be a fun, potted plant in cooler climates. When touched, the leaves fold up and can take some time before they unfurl again.
Tortured willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’) and twisted hazelnut (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) have curiously curled and twisted stems that children love. They can be cut during their dormant winter season, dried and used as floral decorations or for displaying light ornaments, especially for Christmas.
Pussy willows are also beloved for the fluffy catkins that decorate the stems in spring. All willows should be planted with care and never where there is any risk of these water-hungry plants invading drains.
Chain of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a delightful basket plant with leaves that do resemble tiny hearts.
This information has been kindly supplied by Yates New Zealand. For more comprehensive information on gardening, water conservation and much more visit the Yates website or you can join the Yates Garden Club for free advice, competitions and promotions.