Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fun in the Garden

Today there was a heated debate on Radio 4 about lawns, that much loved feature of British gardens. At least they were much loved - now it seems there are gardeners and garden designers who dislike them, describe them as "boring monocultures" and would much prefer us all to dig them up and plant shrubs, flower beds, areas of decking, paved areas and gravel paths.

Listening to the debate, and the opposing sides were very passionate about their views, I could not help but remember all the fun the lawn in our garden had provided for children. Happy memories of seeing them learn how to perfect handstands, head-over-heels races, rolling downhill races, and to run in and out of the sprinkler on hot sunny days, and even cool days when their shrieks became louder as they encountered the icy jets.

The lawn was not of the Wimbledon standard, far from it. It sprouted daisies which were picked and made into daisy chains to be worn by parents and dolls alike. Dandelions provided flowers to adorn dens and seed heads to blow and make wishes. Isn't it lovely how very small children pick you flowers and give them to you with pride? I love the way they pick just the head.

In shady areas the grass gave way to moss, soft and cool and wonderful to look at through a magnifying glass and see its strange feather like shapes.

There was enough room to set up a tent, make a den out of sticks and a blanket or two chairs a sheet. Picnics were served there, and games and fantasies played out. Often there was a request to "sleep in the den". After much preparation with bedding, flash lights, comfort toys, midnight feasts and water, and an initial trial, the brave occupants decided they would much rather be inside.

The lawn was also a rich source of wildlife, beetles, bumblebees, leather jackets and both kinds of worms. Again looking at them through a magnifying glass and then making up stories about them was something I loved. Also watching the squirrels bury nuts and the Jay finding them and watching the Green Woodpecker and Blackbirds searching for food for their young and then listening to the bird song as they defended "their" patch of green.

In all, I think I like lawns, do you?

The founder of Fairy Tale Children's Furniture, Zandra Johnson is a passionate advocate of imaginative play for children. Studies reveal free time spent playing make-believe helps children develop critical cognitive skills. Fairytale Furniture helps build those skills through imaginative play. Download your free guide to Imaginative Play at FAIRYTALECHILDRENSFURNITURE.CO.UK