Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet, said,
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”
To a child truer words have never been spoken. The earth, in all its wonders and delights, is pure magic to a child. It sparks the creative spirit and ignites the imagination in such a way that nothing can extinguish it. There is nothing that can replace free exploration and adventure, toes deep in sand and soil, hands filled with bits of nature, hair blowing and twisting in the breeze, and minds absolutely soaring. Creative play. There is simply nothing that can replace it. The earth delights in it, children delight in it.
Inviting the bounty and beauty of nature into the outdoor play area my children already enjoy, for us, meant creating a garden specifically dedicated to their exploration and discovery. The result has been incredible. At this point in the summer our garden has begun to be a bit of a jungle…which is met each day with increasing delight. Oh do I wish we could welcome you into our garden to romp and play with us.
While I recognize that not all of you may have the space or inclination to create a children’s garden of this size, you can easily incorporate the living, breathing, magic of nature into your play spaces. Potted plants and trees can come inside, window boxes on play houses or swingsets are delightful, clusters of potted flowers and vegetables can transform decks and patios, and even a few herbs and flowers along a hedge or yard fence create a haven for exploration and discovery.
While I was planning and dreaming up our children’s garden I thoroughly enjoyed pouring over every Child’s Garden book I could find. Here are two of my favorites…but there are oh so many more wonderful ones to devour!! (The images are links, by the way!)
I wish you could all come and explore with us here, but for now…
The following two tomato plants were planted at the same time from the same six pack from the nursery. One in the garden whose soil had been heavily supplemented with compost and manure, and one into a pot with ordinary and rather poor topsoil. The result has been a remarkable and spontaneaous lesson in soil quality and gardening. The small one is pathetic it’s true…but the big one…holy hugeness!!! And there’s two of those huge ones…yikes!
Wishing you happy summer days filled with the beauty and bounty of nature.