Nana’s Garden: Virtual Gardening With Grandkids While Social Distancing

By Nikki Tilley | April 17, 2020
Image by Nikki Tilley
by Nikki Tilley
April 17, 2020

Everyone has probably had their fill of Covid-19 news and social distancing, with stress and uncertainty topping the list. I think one of the most difficult things for me through all this has been the need to stay away from my family, especially gardening with grandkids. That being said, I have lots to be thankful for.

Social Distancing in the Garden

As the senior editor for Gardening Know How, I’m grateful to have a job that allows me to work from home. As a gardener, I’m loving the additional time to practice social distancing outdoors doing what I love – gardening. And as a grandparent, I’m thankful for technology which lets me enjoy time with my grandbabies through video chats, and the many videos that keep me posted to what’s happening.

Although it doesn’t replace actually being there with them, it’s the next best thing. I got to hear (and see) my 4-month-old “angel bear” giggle. I saw her sit up the first time and hold her bottle. I’ve watched my rambunctious grandson paint a birdhouse, practice his colors in a matching game, feed the ducks and water the garden – all priceless moments that wouldn’t have been possible to experience back in my day.

Even better is the fact that I can use these opportunities to continue sharing my garden knowledge, and even Nana’s garden, with them.

Gardening with Grandkids – Virtually Anywhere

Jax has been my garden companion since he was an infant, spending time with Nana Kiki outdoors and in the garden. We’ve picked and smelled flowers, watered plants, pulled weeds, played in dirt, listened to wind chimes, and more.

I miss having him around with social distancing in place, but it gives us a chance to get creative. And this is something I’ve always tried to instill in my kids, so it’s only natural to want the same for my grandbabies. Think outside the box! Be different. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. That’s pretty much how I garden too.

During some of our video chats, we take walks together. He shows me all his new stuff, his ducks, his latest projects, his trucks, etc. I show him Nana’s garden, how it’s growing, flowers that are blooming, birds and other wildlife (and Maya too – our dog and his friend), etc. Sometimes we share the weather. Last week it was sunny at his house but started to rain at mine, so he got to see the sudden downpour. A couple months ago it snowed, those big fluffy, white snowflakes. I shared that too.

We’ve recently played a new game in Nana’s garden to coincide with his learning about colors and words. We may not be able to grow a rainbow garden in the traditional way right now, but virtual gardening is more than doable. For example, I can pick a flower that is red and ask him, “What color is this?” He confidently replies, “Red!” I move on to another color, asking him if he knows the color, or pan around the garden to let him find the colors himself. We do this for all the colors he’s learned. We have had talks in Nana’s garden about how grass is green, soil is brown, and the sun (don’t look at it) is bright yellow.

The same concept holds true of letters in the alphabet, our next activity. There’s literally a number of things we can still do (until he loses interest – he’s only 2 ½) while social distancing outdoors. We can talk about bugs in the garden or watering plants so they grow. His mom recently sent a pic of him watering his flowers – a very proud Nana Kiki moment! Watering has been a fun gardening chore in Nana’s garden since that child could sit, and of course, anything that involves getting dirty. Lol

I am thinking of creating a virtual garden diary for him. Just a thought for others out there feeling the strain of isolation from loved ones or struggling with ways to enjoy gardens together from afar. Virtual gardening is a thing now and limited only by our imaginations. Technology has given grandparents like myself a new way to stay in touch. We can continue to pass along our “wisdom” and share important milestones – all while social distancing in the garden.

Jax still loves flowers and enjoys smelling them; and though we can’t smell them in our video chats, we can still pretend.

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