By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 12, 2001 at 5:40 AM

Many adult gardeners say they cultivated their hobby at an early age, working alongside parents and grandparents. Special home gardens created just for kids may help to jump start a life-long hobby.

Some ideas:

ABC Flower Garden
Bring a child along on a seed-shopping expedition. Challenge the child to choose the seeds for an ABC Flower Garden, where each flower -- planted in order -- represents a letter of the alphabet. From Aster to Zinnia, there are plenty of options, but finding them will be a challenge. Find a special place for the kids' garden, plant the flowers and have fun.

Sunflower House
Plant several sunflowers in a circle measuring three feet in diameter. Encourage a child to help tend the flowers. Eventually, the flowers will droop inward, providing the roof of the house. Sprinkle pine needles inside the house. Encourage the child to sit, read and stay cool during the summer's hottest months.

Pizza Garden
Plant marigolds in a circle of any size. Divide the circle into wedges with the marigolds outlining each "slice." Plant a different pizza topping in every triangle -- favorites include tomatoes, peppers and onions. Celebrate the harvest with a special pizza dinner.

The Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens' horticulture educators conduct year-round children's activities at the Gardens and in classrooms throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. For more information about children's horticulture education programs, call 421-9555.