The Children's Garden encourages children to play, explore and interact with their environment through the use of colour, texture, scent and form. The variety of plants creates a range of active play spaces, offering fun and stimulating experiences for all ages. Contemplative elements allow space for children to think, relax and let their imagination roam. Bench seats are provided at good vantage points.
The plaque in the Children's Garden includes some words adapted from a poem by Angelina Stanton:
"For the children to explore
the secret corners
of our natural world
To be surrounded
by the beauty of the ground
in wild wonder of our Earth"
The Children's Garden was designed by Chris Johnstone of Bosqué Studio, constructed by Able Landscaping Pty Ltd and made possible through a generous donation from Brand and Peta Hoff.
Children are still exploring and getting to understand their world around them. The more prescriptive you are about children's play elements and how they should be 'properly' used, the more you limit their creative play. Providing them with interesting spaces that they can explore and discover triggers imagination and encourages them to play and interact with their environment in a different way that fixed play equipment. While spaces need to be safe, research supports the importance of children learning to challenge themselves – it's the important beginning of risk assessment. Spaces where children can be free to play, and also where elements are either robust, or ephemeral and easily replaced when damaged.
The design of the Children's Garden engages with children of all ages to offer an experience of the cultivated natural world. The garden looks to engage children in this via colour, texture, scent and form, through the use of a diverse planting palate that expresses the connection between plants and people. The metaphor of a tree or plant holds a wonderful parallel to the way that people live and grow within their environment and is a tangible demonstration of the differences between individuals and the richness this diversity brings. This doesn't stop at the plant, as they too need other supportive relationships with different living and inert elements in our world in order for them all to thrive and express some of these connections. Further to this; the garden will express the underlying themes of the surrounding arboretum, to show how diversity and contrast creates stimulating environments for all types of things to occur; from its role in as a repository for global tree diversity, to the wonderment of its incredible mixture of texture, form and colour.
The garden contains both active and contemplative elements around the use of plants, to make available a range of experiences for all ages that are fun and stimulating. The provision of safe and robust spaces that can offer an enduring quality experience for the children visiting has been a focus. Timber step-hoppers, soft lawn mounds, timber logs and a wiggly worm tunnel are just a few of the different garden elements that children can explore.
Along with the children, the adults who accompany them haven't been forgotten; good seating opportunities located in both sun and shade as the garden grows have been integrated into the garden at points with good surveillance. The Children's Garden looks to complement and contrast, not replicate, the existing play and learning areas at the arboretum such as the Discovery Garden and the Pod Playground, and in the same vein, offer a unique and complimentary garden experience to Gallery of Gardens.
Plant selection criteria
Plants in this garden were chosen for their unique colour, scent, texture and look; and were also selected to be relatively hardy, to survive in the Canberra climate.
Asparagus densiflorus 'Myersii'
Acacia cognata 'Cousin it'
Boronia hybrid 'Pink Passion'
Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Lomandra longifolia 'Tanika'
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Cream Lea'
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Purple Lea'
Phormium tenax 'Sweet Mist'
Imperata cylindrica 'Yalba'
Themeda australis 'Mingo'
Banksia spinulosa Black Magic
Grevillea obtusifolia prostrate
Correa X Dusky Bells
Eremophilla racemosa 'Weston's Wonder'
Spiraea cantoniensis Lanceata
Buxus microphylla var. microphylla
Rosemarinus officinalis 'prostratus'
Artemesia arborecens 'Powis castle'
Loropetalum hybrid 'China Pink'
Daphne odorata Dwarf
Delphinium elatum 'Dark Blue'
Buddleia davidii 'Royal purple'
Cordyline australis 'Cabernett' TM
Anigozanthus 'Bush dance'
Anigozanthus hybrid 'Bush Bonanza' (Yellow)
Azalea kurume Hatsugiri
Humulus lupulus'Vienna Gold'