Remember how much time we spent outside as kids? When we were kids, there was no internet, fewer TV channels and a whole world outside to explore! Even the backyard was a place for endless fun, imagination and hanging out with friends.
Some of what we did back then is now called ‘nature play’ and it’s enjoying huge popularity with specially designed playgrounds springing up across Australia. So we thought it was time to look at how to bring some of that experience home.
This gallery of our favourite projects shows that even small spaces can be made interesting for kids.
Pull together a range of materials – and make it easy for them to be packed away when you want to reclaim the space. Images: via Pinterest; via Community Playthings
Every kid loves building cubbies – keep it low-cost with pallets, branches and a bamboo blind. Image: via Pinterest
Put that tree to use with a mini treehouse, marble run or fort. Images: via Apartment Therapy; via Pinterest; Wife Mother Gardener
Even a courtyard garden offers space for nature play. Image: via Pinterest
Prep some hidden spaces with gravel and rocks – and keep the play going on hot or sunny days. Image: via Pinterest
Add a swing – autumn leaves make great camouflage. Image: via Pinterest
Design your garden with space between elements to encourage exploration and play. Image: via Playbased Learning
Add some semi-permanent or permanent elements – they’re great for encouraging first time visitors to join in, while also allowing favourite games to be played out again and again. Images: via All For The Boys; via Parents Magazine; Create With Your Hands
If you want to provide a boundary between kids and any precious plants, Link Edge is the ideal garden edging – easy to install, safe on feet and hands with a rolled top edge, seriously tough and long lasting, stays in place, and it’s great for forming curves or straight lines. The Link Edge range includes powder coated colours plus circle and square kits. Learn more and find stockists at linkedge.com.au
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1. Jason Mraz – avocado tree
Be like the ‘I’m Yours’ singer-songwriter and plant an avocado tree. Living on a 2.2 hectare avocado farm in California, Jason has no problems whipping up smashed avo on toast for breakfast with friends. Surprisingly, avocado trees grow successfully across Australia, from Darwin to Tasmania! And with the trees being self-pollinating, you don’t need a whole farm – just one should be enough.
2. President Obama – statement entrance
Strictly this isn’t the former president’s personal estate. But this Hawaiian rental property at Kailua Bay on the main island includes a lagoon style pool, waterfalls and awesome views. Fittingly, it also has an impressive statement entrance to welcome guests and their entourage. Symmetry, good lighting and a tantalising glance into what’s beyond are the key elements here.
Image: via Top Ten Real Estate Deals
3. Cate Blanchett & Andrew Upton – statement trees
When the couple sold their heritage harbourside Hunters Hill mansion, it wasn’t just the sophisticated contemporary interiors that garnered gasps of envy. The landscaping – low maintenance and practical for an active, jet-setting family – also shared the stage. The muted colours of the sandstone paving, retaining walls and gorgeous pool, were offset by the vibrant purple of the flowering jacarandas. Just beautiful!
Images: via Domain
4. Gisele Bündchen & Tom Brady – avenue of trees
Even if you’re pressed for space, you can create a mini avenue with four trees, just as Gisele and Tom have done. Choose trees with branches that spread a little and form a vase or oval shape. Also, for more impact, think colour! Some trees with spectacular autumn leaves and flowers include Japanese maple, crepe myrtle, Manchurian pear, Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ or Prunus mume ‘Splendens’. Add interest in the garden beds below with massed plantings. Or make it easy on yourself when the leaves and petals fall and need to be raked – simply create mulched beds held in place by attractive garden edging such as Link Edge.
Images: via Architectural Digest
5. Julianne Moore – controlled wilderness
What we love about the actor’s New York garden is how her courtyard feels so wild, yet is essentially low maintenance. Sticking to a green and dark grey colour palette helps the courtyard to feel like a cool oasis in the middle of the city that never sleeps. Plantings at different heights, the spreading tree creating dappled light and massed groupings of pots add to the sense that this could be a forest glade.
Images: via Architectural Digest
6. Oprah Winfrey – vegetable patch
In Oprah’s case, the vegetable patch on her Hawaiian property is more farm than patch. But you get the picture – every home needs its own little space for fresh herbs and some easy to grow vegetables.
Image: via 365 Days of Self Care
7. Chris Brown – tiered hardscaping
Chris purchased a new beachside property in late 2017 – and the hardscaping is every bit as handsome as the Bondi Vet himself! Bring some of this style to your home with garden beds at different heights, wide steps to lounge on and matching wall and floor tones to increase the sense of space. The minimalist chic of Chris’ new garden is balanced by the warmth of inbuilt wood seating and a splash of neatly contained lawn adjacent the house. This gorgeous garden probably even has Link Edge garden edging between that lawn and the garden beds. Which means the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here host can spend more time surfing than maintaining his plot.
Next time you’re cursing the weather while working in your garden, spare a thought for gardeners elsewhere. We’ve compiled a list of some of the toughest places on earth to establish a garden. These are places where choosing native plants is the best course of action – unless you’re cashed up or extremely stubborn!
Hot, hot, hot – Dubai
Mention Dubai and it conjures up visions of awe-inspiring skyscrapers in the desert; it’s hot, humid and averages only five rainy days every year! However, this futuristic city is also home to the world’s largest natural flower garden, which encompasses over 72 hectares of garden beds and 3D floral displays. It is estimated to have 50 million flowers and 250 million plants, with 120 species of flowers featured.
The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and is open from November to May when the weather is more convivial. Planting occurs in the peak of summer – in July temperatures can reach a blistering 50ºC. What keeps this tourist attraction looking fabulous during the season? Regular watering, of course – an average of 750,000 litres of reclaimed water are used daily.
Image: via Gulf Daily News
Cold and colder – Arctic Circle and Harbin, China
Inside the Arctic Circle the average winter temperature is -34ºC, while summer hovers varies between -10º and 10ºC because of the comparative ocean warmth. What’s interesting about life in the tundra is that arctic foxes are responsible for the flowers that bloom around their dens. While they aren’t actually gardening, their organic waste supports the abundant growth of summer’s yellow wildflowers.
Harbin, China is famous for its annual ice festival with average winter temperatures plummeting to -24ºC overnight and rising to -12ºC on sunny days. While this harsh weather could make one think of a barren wasteland, the nutrient rich chernozem soil, or ‘black earth’, is ideal for agriculture (like wheat) and flower farming. In spring, the city’s botanical gardens are carpeted with colour as tulips and daffodils bloom.
Images: Daniel J Cox via National Geographic; The Guardian; Escape Artistes
Inhospitable soil – Nishi-no-shima Island, Japan
This uninhabitable island 940 kilometres from Tokyo is really the caldera of an undersea volcano. It lay dormant for around 10,000 years until a series of eruptions, starting in 1974, saw it grow in size from 600m long and 200m wide with an area of 0.1 km2 to its current size of 2.9 km2. In 2016, a group of scientists studying the ecology of the island found that nesting birds, including gannets and bramblings, had created an environment for goosegrass and purslane to grow.
Image: AFP: Japan Coast Guard
Lack of sunlight – Rjukan, Norway
The inhabitants of Rjukan, Norway live without direct sunlight between September and March thanks to the mountains that tower over their village. Since 1928, the locals have had a cable car to take them up to the top of the mountain for a dose of vitamin D. But for some that wasn’t good enough. So in 2013, they installed the Solspeilet – a group of three sun mirrors perched up high and reflecting a circle of warm orange sunlight into the town square. Of course, a lack of direct sunlight doesn’t mean a beautiful garden is out of the question, but it does limit ones choices. The local is area is known for its wild blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries and mushrooms. But no sunflowers are grown in Rjukan.
Image: via The Guardian
Monsoonal rain – Meghalaya, India
With an average rainfall of more than 12,000 millimetres in some areas, this state in India is the wettest place on earth. However, it doesn’t seem so foreboding if you focus on the positives – like it’s great for growing rice, pineapples, papayas, maize, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, orchids and other water-loving plants; and there are truly awesome natural wonders in the region, like Nohkalikai Falls, India’s highest waterfall. The living root bridges woven from the aerial roots of the Ficus elastica tree are also a gardener’s delight.
Image: via Travel Triangle
Wind – Oklahoma, USA
Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…Those cheery lyrics just roll off the tongue, like tumbleweed and uprooted trees! But imagine what it’s like to garden in one of the world’s windiest inhabited places. Online forums talk of the need for 6 stakes to hold up one tomato plant and creating 3 metre high windbreaks for garden beds using densely planted corn or sunflowers. Constant wind affects a plant’s ability to put down roots and absorb water, causes breakages and distortion, and increases the chances of fungal diseases and other pathogens being spread. It’s enough to make consider another hobby. Musical theatre, perhaps?
Image: The Oklahoman via NewsOK
Feeling inspired to get into the garden this weekend? Why not add structure, definition and the finishing touch around your garden beds, lawn, paths or driveway with Link Edge. Stylish, easy-to-install and long-lasting, it’s the garden edging that can cope with all weather conditions!