Friday, 4 September 2015

Nature and seasons.

The willow in summer.
One of the things I think most new school playgrounds do not take into consideration is providing planting that allows children to be surrounded by nature and to see seasonal changes. If I am totally honest, it is not something I consciously thought about when we were getting ready to move into our new space 9 years ago. We put a bush in a tyre in the middle of the playground without even knowing that it was deciduous! 
This bush allows the children to see our 4 very distinct seasons.
The nursery moved from one end of the school grounds to another and we suddenly gained lots of trees that were in the gardens of the nearby houses & thereby had a ready supply of leaves in Autumn to incorporate into our play. Now, the children get to see birds nests in the trees in Winter and Spring before the leaves fill in on the trees and the willow dens provide shelter in Spring and Summer.
This big tree is full of nests, we can hear the birds now but can't see them.

The willow is starting to provide great cover along the fence.
One Spring we planted some willow along the fence in the nursery and it is amazing to see how well it has grown and provides more shelter from the wind as well as making a lovely noise.
I love that Bear Woods allows the children to see seasonal changes first hand, from the red autumnal leaves to the lush green summer foliage with the bare stark stick like trees in Winter.
If it is at all possible, I would suggest schools seek advice from someone who knows about trees or planting to help enhance their grounds.


  1. Thanks Kierna - This is a valid point - as educators we are not taught the value of trees and the benefit of children being able to see leaf changes and other seasonal events. The mainstream education sector is missing a trick here.

    1. I hadn't realised it myself until we had trees around us & sadly most playgrounds are tree free so have no shelter either. I know maintenance is a major issue for schools but the benefits outweigh the costs in my opinion!

  2. Fantastic - I love this! I worked as a Landscape Architect for about 8 years and I loved designing spaces for children. I think that the outdoor environment is so important especially considering that so much of the UK school year is made up of the autumn and winter months and, as you've already pointed out, there are so many opportunities for playing and exploring outside during these seasons.

    1. Exactly! We have such distinct seasons why not use nature & trees to illustrate it. It makes me sad that children read about seasons but can't actual see them in their own school grounds.


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