Beyond the Playground
In 2010 I was proud to write the 'Beyond the Playground: New Approaches to Children in Gardens' for The Garden History Society - a call to arms to get garden owners and managers thinking 'outside the box' when looking to provide for child visitors to their sites.
As part of The GHS's conservation team, I had long been accustomed to considering the impact of new play facilities within historic landscapes. In some instances, such as in urban public parks, playgrounds are perfectly valid and chime well with the site’s historic raison d’être. In others, such as in gardens with a history of being private homes, the proposals can sit uncomfortably with the site, its history, and its aim to have a relevance in today’s society.
By thinking a little more imaginatively, we may realise that many historic gardens are inherently suited to children’s play and engagement and suddenly it may no longer seem so necessary to spend those thousands of pounds on some new brightly-coloured play equipment – ugly, expensive and always to a degree detrimental to the historic designed landscape. We may notice a fountain that would be perfect for sailing boats in, if only a little stash of them was left ready on the edge; a Broad Walk that is calling to have a hoop rolled along it; a pond perfect for fishing were there a row of ready nets; a hill on which a kite could be flown; a hermitage that would be a thousand times more entertaining were there a hermit in it; a park where perhaps the mowing regime could allow for a temporary grass maze; bales of hay that could be left a little longer in the meadow for young climbers to conquer; or perhaps even a shrubbery robust enough to take a little rummaging.
Since it's publication, this little booklet has been requested by hundreds of the most influential garden managers, play leaders and education professionals across the world!
Please email info@thegardenstrust if you would like to receive a copy of Beyond the Playground. The Garden History Society has now become The Gardens Trust. To find out more, please go to www.thegardenstrust.org