Morton Arboretum’s New Children’s Garden

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The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL (25 miles west of Chicago) has just opened a new Children’s Garden, and it’s getting rave reviews, including this one by Leslie McGuire for, “The Best Backyard in the World.”

Designed by Herb Schaal of EDAW Fort Collins, the four-acre garden is intended to “spark children’s curiosity about the natural world” in a safe place that “combines different experiences that challenge physical, cognitive, and emotional development in delightful ways while teaching all about natural systems.”

McGuire goes into depth with descriptions of the various areas of the garden, including Backyard Discovery Gardens, Tree Finder Grove, Kid’s Tree Walk, Adventure Woods, and the Central Plaza. It’s a good read, with lots of pictures to spark the imagination.

Children’s gardens in arboreta, botanical gardens, and other parks are often so creative. Unlike your average playground with a bunch of plastic equipment on some rubber surface, these children’s gardens are all about making discovery and learning full of fun, wonder, and delight. I just visited the one at the Huntington Gardens and was so impressed. I’ll be blogging about that soon. I only wish that that same imagination could be employed more often in children’s gardens in healthcare facilities. Why is it not? Do we lack the budget? Are we scared about litigation? Are we creating generic “healing gardens” that are designed as contemplative spaces instead of as places where kids can run around, play, be distracted, and blow off steam? What do you think, dear reader? Also, if you have a favorite children’s garden, in a healthcare facility or not, please share by leaving a comment; we’ll add it to our growing list on the (new improved!) Therapeutic Landscapes Network website.

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