Children involved in planning

Wellington school children came to workshops in the Botanic Garden and many great ideas about what kids would love to see in a new Children’s Garden came forth.

Workshop 1. Build an entrance to the Children’s Garden

The children were given bamboo, flax, small branches and plant off cuts and asked to build/create an entrance for The Children’s Garden.

Their ideas:

  • tunnels and closed entrances with doors that opened out to a surprise

  • sun, wind, movement and the sounds of the wind

  • that their entrance was built to last, a sound device that stood up to everything, particularly the wind!

Workshop 2. Explore the garden and name your favourite things

  • maze-like places

  • plants with sensory qualities

  • funny names like the coral tree which looks like it belongs in the sea.

  • colourful flowers

  • lookout spots

  • stepping stones and pixie tracks

  • getting wet and interacting with water.

  • cart wheeling on the lawns

  • games and picnics

  • exposed roots

  • trying to work out the meaning of art and sculptures

  • finding shortcuts

  • exploring

  • secret places

  • imagining jumping on the tops of tree ferns

  • plants that can hurt were ‘cool’

  • things you can climb on

  • swamps with frogs and eels

  • interactive activities where you can plant your own plants

  • butterflies, bird feeders, bugs, fungus and glow worms

  • strawberry plants

  • troll bridges.

Workshop 3.
Thoughts about the area proposed for the Children’s Garden -

The children were asked, “What was special about this area?”.

  • The feeling of being on an island.

  • Great lookout from the edge and over.

  • It is specially for kids, not parents, it is for us!!

  • The lawn is good for rolling, and the trees for climbing up.

Digesting ideas

Taking all of this information, and great feedback directly from the children, we now have a very original, intense with ideas, Children’s Garden concept design.

The new Children’s Garden

A garden for exploring, discovering and connecting with nature and plants.

Theme: Plants Equal Life

  • plants for food

  • plants and fibre,

  • plants in construction

  • plants for medicine.

What will be in the Garden:

  • 2, possibly 3 entrances

  • The Trench Entrance will be high sided. Entry will be from the road 25 metres uphill from the Treehouse Visitor Centre

  • The Learning Pavilion for class activities

  • Learning nodes:

      • Oak Tree Island Lookout (at the bottom of the Garden opposite the Treehouse)

      • Bridge Lookout (above the entrance to The Trench)

      • Tree Pod (high at the top of the garden built in the pohutukawa tree)

      • Construction Hut (at the top entrance)

      • Plant walls lining The Trench

      • Living walls of hanging ‘woolly pockets’ lining the upper production terraces above The Learning Pavilion

  • Production gardens (individual terraces):

      • Healthy Dye Mix e.g. beetroot, love lies bleeding, onions, echinacea, calendula medicinal and useful dyes

      • Muesli Mix – berry, nut and grain crops e.g. cranberry, buckwheat, wheat, quinoa

      • Fast Food and Incredible Edibles - e.g kumara, blackberry, tamarilla, sunflowers

      • Growing Wild – enriched food forest of native kawakawa, supplejack, kiekie, piko piko

  • Orchard Trail – fruit trees and olives

  • Wetland – water races, dish drains, virbella flows, for play and for capturing rain water into tanks, which is then cleaned and filtered through a planted wetland

  • Sculptural plant frames to provide interest and quirkiness to The Children’s Garden

  • Rock Garden Trail for climbing, exploring and sitting on

  • Log Trail for climbing and playing on

  • Insect Hotel – large scale for exploring and discovering bugs

  • Moveable gardens which can come and go depending on the activities and the seasons

  • Lawn areas for picnics and play, and seating for relaxing

  • The banks will be screened using ponga and the area fenced using balustrades.

  • Fencing and screening of areas will utilise many different organic construction materials

  • Solar panels fixed to the Learning Pavilion will heat water

  • Paths and walls will be made of a variety of materials including concrete treatments such as fossil imprints, exposed aggregate, timber look and etching. Earth walls, gabion gaskets and various timber will also be used.

  • The site will be linked by four main paths and terraced slopes between

  • The Trench and paths leading to the Learning Pavilion will be wheel chair accessible from the bottom. Some assistance may be needed for wheelchair access to other paths.

A Children’s Garden working group has newly formed under the Friends of Wellington Botanic Garden to fundraise the required money to build this Garden and have it opened in 2016.

If you are interested in finding out more about what they are doing with their fundraising activities, or helping out then they would love to hear from you.

Friends main web site

Friends Children's Garden site