The Children's Garden

Children playingChildren playingChildren playing

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.

Designer's rationale

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.

Landscape features

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.

Species list


Schinus molle  

Podocarpus macrophyllus

Davidia involucrata

Shrubs, Accent Plants and Ground Covers

Shrubs, Accent Plants and Ground Covers

Luma apiculata

Spiraea cantoniensis

Bergenia cordifolia

Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'

Anigozanthus manglesii

Balotta psuedodictaminus

Cosmos atrosanguineus

Mentha requienii

Cordyline australis ‘Cabernett’ TM

Eschscholzia californica

Buddleja davidiii 'Camberwell Beauty'

Delphinium elatum 'Electric Blue'

Cycas revoluta

Daphne odorata Dwarf

Loropetalum hybrid ‘China Pink’

Artemesia arborecens 'Powis castle'

Stachys byzantina

Muehlenbeckia complexa

Rosemarinus officinalis 'prostratus'

Buxus microphylla 'Green pillow'

Lavandula angustifolia

Eremophila subteretifolia

Correa x Dusky Bells

Grevillea obtusifolia prostrate

Acacia cognate ‘mini cog’

Erigeron mucronatus

Convovulous mucronatus

Themeda australis 'Mingo'

Stipa gigantean

Scleranthus biflorus

Phormium tenax 'Sweet Mist'

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Purple Lea'

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Cream Lea'

Origanum vulgare

Ophiopogon japonicum

Lomandra longifolia 'Tanika'

Liriope spicata 'black'

Liriope muscari

Juncus effuses 'Spiralis'

lsolepis cernua

Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'

Carex testacea

Carex albula 'FrostedCurls'

Banksia spinulosa 'Black Magic'


Campis Grandiflora

Humulus lupulus ‘Vienna Gold’

Wisteria floribunda alba

Wisteria floribunda