When I visit gardens I am always on the look out for ideas that will get children playing and really looking at their environment. This year there was lots on offer at the Hampton Court Flower Show. A garden which aims to raise awareness of overactive bladders may not be an obvious candidate for having child appeal. Yet any garden with a giant pink tap hovering in the air and pouring out water is a great eye catcher. There is no doubt that children will be intrigued as to how it works and how magical it really is. I am sure there will be quite a few ‘I want one of those’ heard during the course of the show. And, indeed, a smaller toned down version would be great fun.
A Matter of Urgency
A garden with a more traditional child-friendly feel is the Playful Garden designed by Southend Borough Council. It combines a blend of play, vegetable and landscape garden, all with a quirky feel, so that plants hang down rather than grow up. The tunnels in perspex are designed so that children can see the roots and animals living in the soil. The design and planting encourages lots of different type of active play and interaction with the plants and structures. I liked the arena – giving children the freedom to run around, tumble down or to dress up and put on a play.
Root World Tunnel
There has been lots of publicity the Legoland Garden, which has great novelty value for the kids and is definitely better than plasticine flower garden shown at Chelsea last year. It is unlikely that you will be able to use similar features in your own garden. If you miss it at Hampton Court you will be able to see it when it is rebuilt at Legoland Windsor.
The Legoland Pirates Landing Garden
For me one of the highlights of this years show has to be the Home Grown Area. You can take tour around the fields of an arable farm in miniature and a similarly miniature market garden or is it a large allotment. There is an orchard and chickens and an unusual mushroom growing area.. Everything looks great and children can really see where there food comes from and how ornamental it can all be. Inspirational.