By Leah Fox
A dad has dubbed his five-year-old son ‘the next Alan Titchmarsh’ after he developed green fingers on the same day he started walking to become the UK’s youngest gardener.
Little Thomas Garrett began embracing the outdoors at just a few months old, picking out and inspecting leaves, flowers and fruit in the garden of his family’s home in Northampton.
The youngster then began following in keen organic gardener dad David’s footsteps by watering plants and developing his own dinosaur-themed area complete with ferns and a watering hole for his plastic dinosaur toys and frog pond.
Thomas now knows his begonias from his buttercups and enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge with his peers at school, hoping to one day become the next generation’s top gardening expert.
Dad-of-two David 31, who works for the charity Garden Organic, said: “Thomas started taking an interest in gardening when he started walking, and it’s now become second nature to him.
“He would walk around on the grass and pick up flowers, plants and fruit – nothing ever made it into the house, he would always eat the strawberries and raspberries outside!
“He’s always just had an interest in the outdoors, like me he loves being out in the garden as much as possible.
“I think Thomas could be one of the UK’s youngest gardeners and I want to give him every chance to do what he wants to do, whether that’s gardening or garden design, or even something else.
“I’ve always included him in the little gardening tasks I do as a family activity – sometimes he dips in and out but he has his own little areas of the garden like a dinosaur kingdom with flowers in it that he likes to water.
“There’s certain flowers that he will name straight away and he always says his favourite is a daffodil because it’s bright and yellow.
“Thomas really likes watching Gardeners World and Garden Rescue with us – he loves the Rich brothers and seeing what’s in other people’s gardens.
“He will say to me ‘Ok do you think we could do that in our garden’ and asks lots of questions to try and blend it into what we could do.
“He could absolutely become the next Alan Titchmarsh!”
After moving into their house five years ago, David and his wife Natasha, 29, a primary school teacher, decided to transform their small suburban garden from scratch, with newborn Thomas watching closely from his pram before his parents treated him to a mini trowel to start digging.
Since the coronavirus lockdown, Thomas has been getting out in the garden as much as possible, and David decided to incorporate his passion for the outdoors into his home-schooling.
Every day he will survey his garden and see what needs tending to with his little dinosaur-themed watering can, but mostly sits on the grass to learn phonics and uses stones, seeds or bark chippings to count for maths.
Dino-obsessed Thomas has completed his own dinosaur-themed space, planting tulips and ferns for his toys to hang out in, and recently helped his dad to dig out a pond for frogs and figured out what plants to add to help shade them.
He has also begun creating rainbows out of petals he’s found in the garden during quarantine, in support of the NHS and key workers.
Thomas has an 18-month-old baby sister, Rosie, who also likes pottering around the garden picking up petals and leaves on the ground.
David said: “Thomas loves being outside and that’s where I feel he learns the most, breathing fresh air and being in nature.
“His sister Rosie has her own fairy kingdom in the garden and crawls around with Thomas looking at snails and other wildlife – she seems to be following in his footsteps.
“Organic gardening is really important to me because I want my children to be able to pick strawberries and raspberries and roll around without worrying about them eating or touching chemicals.”
At the moment, Thomas is unsure of what he would like to do when he grows up, but knows he wants to continue sharing his love of plants for years to come.
He has been recording gardening tutorials to show his teachers, and also helped film a wormery video for the national horticultural charity Garden Organic’s social media, with his dad, who works there as Head of Knowledge Transfer.
David added: “I’d love for Thomas to be the kingpin for the next generation of organic gardeners – for him to take on that mantle and encourage his peers at school and others would be great and we’re really proud of him.
“I think he really likes sharing his knowledge and passion through filming videos – I won’t step in his way and I’d love him to keep doing what he does.”
This week, children are being encouraged to support the NHS, Key Workers and National Children’s Gardening Week, by growing a rainbow of flowers in their garden, or by using the leaves and petals from existing plants to create their own unique rainbow design.
To download instructions for making the rainbow and other gardening activity sheets for children, head to: gardenorganic.org.uk/news/national-childrens-gardening-week