Archive for 14/02/2013


The Lost Gardens of Heligan  (meaning ‘willow tree garden’ in cornish), near Mevagissey, Cornwall  are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The garden is typical of the nineteenth century Gardanesque style, with areas of different character and in different design styles.

The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, and still form part of the family’s estate. The gardens were neglected after the 1st World War, and restored only in the 1990s, a restoration that was the subject of several popular television programmes and books.

The gardens now boast a fabulous collection of aged and colossal rhododendrons and camellias, a series of lakes fed by a ram pump over a hundred years old, highly productive flower and vegetable gardens, an Italian garden, and a stunning wild area filled with primaeval-looking sub-tropical tree ferns called “The Jungle”. The gardens also have Europe’s only remaining pineapple pit, warmed by rotting manure, and two figures made from rocks and plants known as the Mud Maid and the Giant’s Head (see pic).

Source: Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

I arrived at Gressenhall knowing very little about farming. I was vaguely interested in history and I knew I wanted to have a smallholding when I was older. However the industrious commercial farms had no attraction to me. When the opportunity arose to come to Gressenhall I jumped at the chance and from the first day that I saw the advert I dreamt of getting the job and the things that I would learn on the farm.

Ploughing with Trojan and Bowler with Ransomes Plough

Since I have been here I have really enjoyed working the horses and learning about Victorian agriculture and the agricultural revolution. Aside from this I have been attending college one day per week in order to achieve my level 2 NVQ in mixed agriculture. This has given me a sound footing in agricultural knowledge that I can apply here on the farm as well as in future work. Before I came to Gressenhall…

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tree climbingIn the previous post I set out some of the ‘natural’ ingredients of designed  ‘play landscapes’. What can parents do to increase the natural play opportunities for their children? Here are ten tips – why not try to use them over the half term holidays?

1. Ask yourself, how can your children have the same exciting opportunities to play naturally as you did? Remember your own childhood memories of playing in natural places: damming, running, climbing, digging, building, splashing, dreaming, chatting and watching are just some of the great natural play memories adults have.

2. Allow children the time and space to discover natural play opportunities for themselves. Natural spaces are the ultimate play environments and children instinctively seek out and discover ways in which to interact with and use nature. Children who have direct, playful experiences of nature are most likely to develop caring attitudes and behaviours in later life.

3. Find out where the nearest natural spaces are to you. Children need everyday nature. This includes free access to parks, gardens, city farms, village greens, hedgerows and rough ground within easy reach of their homes, as well as visits to woodlands, beaches and open grassland further afield.


Den building

4. Provide old clothes and outdoor gear. This will help children play naturally in all weathers. Getting muddy, wet or sweaty and coming home with snagged or grass stained clothing is just part of playing outdoors. Opportunities to play with nature, through climbing trees, exploring the world of animals, building dens or making mud pies, are fun and help children to cultivate an awareness of and respect for nature.

Natural play areas need to be managed and sometimes benefit from man-made add ons

Most natural play areas need to be managed and sometimes benefit from man-made add ons

5. Encourage children to play out and inspire them with the magic of natural spaces. Sensitive adults can support and enthuse children by sharing the sense of wonder of the natural world and jointly uncovering its mysteries and surprises. Stories, costumes, treasure trails and quests can gently kindle the flames of children’s imaginations when playing in natural settings. Outdoor natural spaces allow children to be spontaneous and create and explore their own imaginary worlds.

picture- Emma Bradshaw

Exploring nature- picture: Emma Bradshaw

6. Help children take risks in play, like climbing trees. Children need and want to take risks through play. Playing in natural settings allows children to find ways of challenging themselves and taking risks that fit them as individuals. Be open and transparent about what is involved in natural play activities so that children playing outdoors can experience the fun and excitement of stretching and testing themselves.

7. Find your nearest adventure playground. If parents and children prefer to play with adults around, adventure playgrounds usually have some natural areas. In some areas there may be play workers or park keepers who encourage children to play in natural spaces. Ask you local council what supervised play opportunities are provided locally.

Simple pleasures- a nest created from cut grass, gravel and cotton wool

Simple pleasures- a nest created from sticks, cut grass, gravel and cotton wool..

8. Look out for opportunities for free natural supplies. Children love to move things around and rearrange their play spaces. Natural resources, like tree and hedge trimmings make great den-building materials. Good play spaces can be made by adding natural elements into children’s outdoor playgrounds, such as trees and plants, earth, rocks, logs, water and natural moveable objects.

9. Stick up for children’s right to play naturally outdoors.Children need advocates who can help them find natural places to play. Encourage children to play naturally in your area, call on your local authority to provide accessible wild spaces for children to play in, and support your local play centre to run environmental play sessions in outdoor settings. Possibly lobby for ‘play landscapes’ that include a mixture of ‘off the shelf’ play equipment and custom-built structures and natural play features.

10. Experience it yourself! The best way for adults to prepare and plan for successful natural play is to experience it! Think about natural play activities you would like today’s children doing, and then have a go for yourself.

Water play- Wells next the Sea, Norfolk

Water (and mud) play- Wells next the Sea, Norfolk

Source: after ‘Wild about Play’- Martin Maudsley

Other information:

Love Outdoor play

Nature on the Map

Places for play exhibition

The Forestry Commission and play

Natural play – Londonplay

Playwork Partnerships

The Child in Nature

Outdoor Experiences and Healthier brains

Natural play philosophy and approach

Old School Gardener

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A few days ago when the weather was fine, Todd and I wandered over to Halls Creek Wood Preserve.  It’s located about five miles from our house, not too far from the city of Morrow.  The park covers 238 acres and has two miles of trail.  Halls Creek and the Little Miami River meet in the preserve and offer beautiful water views.  We saw several interesting trees and enjoyed the art show that they had prepared for us.  While we didn’t see any of the parks animal inhabitants, we caught glimpses of their presence.  Over the next few articles, I’ll share with you the beautiful sights and sounds of the Preserve.  So, put your hiking boots on, grab your jacket and come away with us.

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