Monday, 3 September 2018

Family garden adventuring

After moving this year I have a new garden to work with and turn into a family space, for both adults and children, namely my 8 year old who loves the outdoors. I don't want to lose his interest in nature, mucky hands and bugs so next year me and the OH (Sweep) are going to put some plans together to create a new garden from scratch. Up until now the front area of the house was just paving stones with a few planters but over the summer I created a container garden full of herbaceous perennials to attract the bees and the hoverflies, my son loves nature as we do too. But how to add areas for children to burn off energy yet keep the garden looking lovely and keeping it safe too. I have a few ideas for the elements we are considering that will offer solutions to keep all of us happy. 


Choose non poisonous plants
Do a little homework around safe plants as many are surprisingly poisonous. Foxgloves can prove fatal if ingested, delphiniums are also toxic and other plants may cause skin irritations such as euphorbia. Check out safe plants with the RHS. Many seed companies have a children's growing range, fun to grow, educational and safe options such as calendula, sunflowers and snapdragons. We have dogs too so it is important that no accidents happen with leaves or flowers being munched. I'm going to remove the foxgloves to the flower bed outside and make sure that the flowers within the garden are nothing too nasty. Look out for anything too thorny and prickly too for small hands and paws. 
happy garden dog



Play equipment
My boy needs some interesting outdoor play equipment to exercise and engage his imagination. I've been looking at the inspiring range from Wickey, a family run business who make wonderful wooden climbing frames, play houses, sandpits and more. The range is immense, different types of climbing frames, castles, seaside huts, space rockets that you can choose the colour of the slide and the tarpaulin to suit your garden which I think is a great way to choose equipment that compliments the home and garden. The website allows you to change colours to see what it will look like. Then there are tons of accessories from ship's wheels to climbing holds for little feet. I really love the playhouses with their cute chimneys (my Sweep will love that feature), they look like something from a fairytale and will delight the imagination of any child (and parents too) and will complete the look of a garden. I'd add swathes of wild flowers around them or tubs of pretty annual flowers. It's great for children to be encouraged to get outside and play, stimulating the senses and helping with motor and coordination skills but also great to have a pretty garden so these wooden climbing frames give an organic look amongst your flowers, shrubs and trees. There are different sizes, designs, all full of activities to climb, slide and swing from. I think even our dogs would love to whizz down the slide.
Wickey climbing frames



Creativity
We are also looking to add some creative areas of the garden. Even though it is relatively small, we are going to section the garden into different rooms so one area will have a seaside element where we add plants such as pink sea thrift and keep little displays of the shells, pebbles and even seagull skulls that we have found whilst beach combing on holiday. We have been around a lot of village open garden this year for inspiration and found some interesting use of found objects on our travels, dolls set into walls, vintage garden tools, skulls and other peculiar items set amongst the flowers. I like creating pockets of areas with different themes, as we like collecting things and I hope they add to my son's sensory and imaginative play. He is very tactile and enjoys discovering so shells and bones add to exploration.
skulls in a garden


Wild areas
We love wildlife too and have greatly enjoyed attracting lots of different species of hoverfly, bees and some butterflies. From just a few planters, we added more and more to create borders of containers, swapping them around and adding new ones all the time for extra colour. Next year Sweep is making a bird table to encourage them into the garden. We were lucky to have swifts nesting in the eaves this year, then soaring each evening, squealing as the sun started to set. Blackbirds made a nest in an old rake propped up in a recess and the wood pigeon was our cherry blossom tree resident although sadly with no success. A wild flower patch and log pile would be great too for other insects and perhaps the village hedgehog that we have called Chippy because we always see him/her by the chip shop. It's a rural area so I'm hoping that we get lots of wildlife venturing into the garden. 

With the limited space it will be tricky at times to accommodate all our needs but with some clever planning and using all the nooks and crannies, I'm confident that I can show you my ideal garden next year that is also a super play space for a young boy.
courtyard garden





*Collaborative post

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