Garden Adventures for Children of All Ages

Although we did not have a traditional American-style garden with a wide expanse of lawn and a swing set to play on, some of my fondest childhood memories are of outdoor adventures: playing hide and seek in the outbuildings of our farm, crawling through tunnels of overgrown shrubs, collecting large colorful snails for a "snail farm", and building countless forts from found materials. Those childhood memories fuel our adult yearnings and imaginations. How many gardening friends do you have that pine for a "treehouse retreat", or whose husbands have built amazing multi-level, wired tree houses "for the kids"?

With its theme of "Garden Adventures", the 2015 Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show was chock full of whimsical ideas for kids of all ages. Many of the designed landscapes featured backyard escapes for both young and old, and creative "reuse" was evident everywhere. From tunnels to tents to teepees, opportunities for "play" and "getaway" were abundant.

 An outdoor checkerboard leads to an elevated "campsite" complete with telescope for stargazing.

An outdoor checkerboard leads to an elevated "campsite" complete with telescope for stargazing.

 An outdoor shed becomes an art studio with a cozy daybed for napping.

An outdoor shed becomes an art studio with a cozy daybed for napping.

 Whimsical mushrooms surround a climbing wall.

Whimsical mushrooms surround a climbing wall.

 An elevated "sandbox" bordered by a moss garden presents play possibilities for young and old.

An elevated "sandbox" bordered by a moss garden presents play possibilities for young and old.

 A corrugated metal tube forms a perfect tunnel to hide in.

A corrugated metal tube forms a perfect tunnel to hide in.

 Reed fencing creates the walls of this naturalist's outdoor retreat, complete with nets, specimen bottles and microscopes to study the nature up close.

Reed fencing creates the walls of this naturalist's outdoor retreat, complete with nets, specimen bottles and microscopes to study the nature up close.

 A Native American-inspired bark hut was the focal point of this naturalistic landscape.

A Native American-inspired bark hut was the focal point of this naturalistic landscape.

 Wood palettes are put to use in a building and fencing for this educational children's garden.

Wood palettes are put to use in a building and fencing for this educational children's garden.

 A chalkboard is surrounded by vertical gardens made of palettes.

A chalkboard is surrounded by vertical gardens made of palettes.

 The artist at work.

The artist at work.

 Recycled tires become whimsical planters…

Recycled tires become whimsical planters…

 …as well as "rocking chairs" and a tic-tac-toe table.

…as well as "rocking chairs" and a tic-tac-toe table.