I recently had a wonderful stroke of luck (thanks to a neighbour/friend), and was introduced to a family with a remarkably creative and beautifully landscaped yard. Starting with an acre of grass lawn, Shauna Leis and Kirk Bergey gradually (over 11 years) converted it into a wildflower paradise filled with a plethora of unique play spaces and structures, all woven together with winding trails.
Not far away, a magnificent play structure, nestled in the trees, was built with found materials, driftwood, scraps and contributions from friends and neighbours. It was designed to resemble an “Ewok village” with a pirate ship and airplane docked next door. Some other features include a well-equipped play/mud kitchen, a spectacular vegetable garden, a grape arbour tunnel, a teepee, and a host of quirky additions (a bicycle, hanging guitars, sunken chairs) all along the trails. In the winter, the sloped network of trails becomes a luge track.
Now, here’s the really impressive part: It was all done by hand. Massive amounts of planning, digging, building and maintenance went into this landscape. Nothing was pre-fabricated or even pre-designed, no machines were brought in to move earth, and very little money was spent on materials.
The family spends most of their time outside, and they truly live what I have been studying for years. Their children are, without a doubt, connected to nature. This couple has created paradise for their children (and themselves). What a wonderful gift.
Is there a contest for the best children’s landscape? They’ve got my vote. Hands down!