Author Archives: admin

Olive Percival and her children’s gardens

The other day in a used bookstore I came across a book called ‘The Children’s Garden Book’ by Olive Percival.

The first line of the forward is, “This is a book of suggestions for children to whom destiny has given such golden things as a plot of ground and many hours, or several years, uninterrupted by the city’s call (ever more insistent, clamorous) to indoor amusement”.

And further down, “If, for the first ten or twelve or fourteen years of life, the children of today could have personal flower gardens in which to play, to study, to read, to work, to dream, the world tomorrow would be greatly lightened of it’s ugly and menacing burden of materialism and general faithlessness”.

The next section of the book are thoughts and notes to the “to the young gardener”.

Here is an example, “Long ago, in Elizabethan England and when our colonial history was just beginning, a bouquet was not called a bouquet nor a nosegay nor a boughpot by those of highest fashion. It was called a tussy-mussy! Nobody seems to know why.”

Thanks to the internet you can read all about tussy-mussies!

The books goes on with more tidbits and advice and then she shares her garden plans for children. Things like “the Fairy Ring”, “The Kate Greenaway Garden”, and “the Moonlight Pleasance”. Each garden comes with a plant list, and illustration and planting plan and text describing details of the garden.

It is so sweet. I fell in love with Olive Percival.Besides being a gardener of some fame and a published writter and poet, she was also a book collector, an expert on Chinese and Japanese art, a traveler, and a photographer.

I have acquired one other book written by her, “Our Old Fashioned Flowers”. The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA has her diaries and photographs.

Olive Percival in her garden

“In this our lovely and bedazzling world – a perplexing world that deafens and deadens us with screaming sirens, rattling dragons, many toys, and noisy amusements – we contrive to to remain avowed lovers of flowers, even if allowed little time or place to make plants grow and willingly or unwillingly come into blossoms.”

– Olive May Graves Percival (July 1, 1869 – February 18, 1945).

You can read more about her here.

Oh, and someone’s term paper on her life here.

Hermit crab cityscapes

Okay, this contains many of my favorite things.

Amazing tiny things!
Small animal!
3D printing!
More miniature things!
Art idea that most people would think, “What?! WHY?”

windmill_web

Artist Aki Inomata creates beautiful plastic shell for hermit crabs that are crafted into elegant cityscapes.

You can watch a short video here.

Reading articles about Ani’s work led me to this article on Inhabitat about Maker Bot’s Project Shelter and the shortage of hermit crab shells.

Progressive School Natural Playscape – Stage One

This is a great project off to a great start. Stage One has been completed with much community help and the kids have been having a blast exploring it.

This is an under used area at a progressive private school (grades K-8). K and 1st grade teachers have requested this area be transformed in to Create with Nature and natural playscape area.

After meetings with the teachers and Landscape Committee I came up with a fun plan that can be completed in various stages as budget become available

map-01

Teacher Requests
– Largish circle of stumps (in combo w/ plants) to enclose the Create With Nature Zone
– Create ‘Storage Library’ for loose parts and tools – organized baskets of materials
– Ability to take over that whole space – involves moving nursery area
– Moving the mulch pile over
– Barriers to keep kids out of parking area and out from under delicate oaks
– Incorporation of other play elements –
– Water, Playhouse, Interesting plants, Pathways

Zones
Create with Nature Zone – Enclosed by plants and stumps, inside are some movable stumps and some larger immovable stumps to build on
Loose Parts Library – Includes wicker baskets, wine crates or other containers with well organized loose parts
Mulch Mountain – Large persistent pile of mulch to be replaced as it breaks down or is used elsewhere
River Bed – Includes child friendly hand pump to access water, water flows into basins or sluice and down into dry river bed w/ bridge for crossing
Pathways – Mulch pathways, include two clear entrances, pavers under oaks through plantings, pavers for a curvy path leading to living willow tunnel
Barriers – Natural fencing (willow or branches) along parking area, low mosaic seating wall at south edge, under oak plantings
Playhouse – Small 3 sided playhouse made from natural materials – willow or branches

Stage 1 – Oct 6th – Main goal is to build Create with Nature Zone and Library of loose parts.
Stump circle – Arrange and dig stumps as we have into largish area surrounding tree
Library – Low, kid accessible shelves for storing baskets of loose parts
Loose parts – Tree cookies, tree blocks, smooth river stones, twigs, pinecones, bamboo pieces, interesting seed pods, any interesting plant material
Tools – Small brooms, rakes, trowels

Next Stages:
Stage 2: move mulch pile, create fencing along parking area, build willow/branch playhouse
Stage 3: plantings and pathways
Stage 4: incorporate water, boulders, watercourse and bridge
Stage 5: K and 1st students create mosaic tiles, organize community mosaic build

Also viewable on my Projects page!

Accessible playgrounds in the Bay Area

I want all children to have access to playgrounds and nature. One of the main problems I see with accessible playgrounds is that the designers lose site of the whole nature part.

How do we make sure playgrounds are inclusive of children of all abilities but still include all the the things kids need to play and learn?

How can it REALLY be done? Not just following the letter of ADA compliance that result in playgrounds with no nature and too much hot plastic surfacing?

I’m reading and thinking on this. Playgrounds can be crazy expensive. Natural elements might seem to imply too much risk, uncertainty and unrealistic upkeep needs. Why? And what to do?

Is no playground better than a playground some kids can’t access? Both scenarios are disheartening.

Some interesting resources:
Bay Area Accessible Playground Finder

http://www.accessibleplayground.net/

Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA