(18 May 2019) LEADIN:
London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is opening a new Children’s Garden, hoping to engage the younger generation.
Those behind the project say today’s children will play a vital role in ensuring the future health of our planet.
Climbing, running, jumping, sliding and perhaps, just a little bit of learning.
London’s Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is opening Saturday (18 May) a new Children’s Garden, spanning around 10,000 square-metres – almost 40 tennis courts.
It’s filled with over 100 mature trees and a canopy walkway circling a 200-year-old English Oak tree.
There are about 18,500 plants, 500 metres of hedge and 6,000 bulbs.
But it’s not just intended to help children blow off some steam, there’s also an educational element too. It’s intended for children aged between two to twelve-years-old.
“We believe it’s really important for young people to have the opportunity to connect with nature, to learn about plants, to explore them, to just enjoy being out in the natural world,” says Richard Barley, director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
“And it’s important because young people need to learn to understand, to value, to appreciate the natural world around them because they will become adults, of course, and these are the future generations, we need people to be more aware of the environment, to value it and to love it.”
The new garden has been designed around elements plants need to grow – earth, air, sun and water.
An Air Garden is home to giant windmill flowers and hammocks. The Water Garden is filled with water pumps that control the flow of water into a pool. The Earth Garden features a giant sand pit and “worm” tunnel slides.
“I hope they’ll learn about the uses of plants,” says the garden’s designer, Suzie Jewell.
“So, for example, a lot of the plants we have here edible. A lot of them smell brilliantly, they’re used for medicines. So I think, to me it’s more about a sensory experience. About them being outside and being able to touch things and actually smell things.”
Jewell hopes it will engage younger, social media-savvy children.
“This generation is experiencing a childhood that spends less time outside than their parents may have done,” she says.
“So, this garden’s is all about being outside, all about experiencing the elements and just being able to get your hands dirty and run around and explore.”
It’s certainly proving engaging for seven-year-old Isabella Cooley.
She says she wants to be an explorer when she grows up. Exploring this new garden is a good start.
“I want to be (an) explorer and this place makes me think about exploring the rainforest when I’m older,” she says.
“My favourite part is the part where there’s loads of trees and pretty flowers.”
Kew Gardens was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2003. First established in 1759, it’s celebrating its 260th anniversary this year.
The popular London tourist attraction draws over 2.1 million visitors annually.
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