The best playground is not always the one with the biggest climbing frame or slide. Planting in schools speak to the senses and offer a very effective way for children to learn and play. Growing is a remarkably powerful theme for young children, with a strong emotional element, masses of learning in every aspect of the curriculum, lots of moving and doing and the potential of laying down the interests and healthy habits for life.
Having a few performing plants that really appeal to children can generate a healthy interest in nature. Plants like the Snapdragon that snaps spreading seeds everywhere when the seed pod squeezed, the Money Plant with papery seed cases shaped like coins or even weeds like goose grass (Gallium aparine) that sticks to everything and dandelions that produce tactile clocks are all captivating for a child.
The ‘Sensory Garden’ is the idiom of the moment. Lack of space is often thought to be problematic when creating sensory gardens. However wildflowers, herbs and even vegetables do not require huge amounts of space. A planter full of colourful, perfumed flowers will be a vast meadow to a small bumble bee. Long grass that rustles in the wind need only be a small area left to grow wild.
Woodland areas can be more challenging. But where there is limited space creating a ‘shady corner’ can be very effective. For tips on choosing trees and plants to create your shady corner see this article.
By creating various areas you are also creating various habitats for wildlife. Children are fascinated by animals and insects. Bright, fragrant flowers entice bees, butterflies and lady birds, wooded areas and hedgerows draw in birds and hedgehogs, long grasses are an ideal place to find grass hoppers, beetles and spiders. Encourage wildlife to live in your play garden with feeders and houses.
Flowers and meadows are bright and exciting and fuel the imagination, aromatic herbs will ignite curiosity and investigation, enchanted woodland areas are a refuge to quietly reflect, hide and discover the hiding in long grasses, run and race in open spaces. A great play garden achieves the right balance. Check out Playgarden’s planting at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay.