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Designing a children’s sanctuary garden

by Timber Press on November 13, 2018

in Design, Gardening

This nest with large basalt “eggs” serve as a reminder that dinosaurs and dragons live in this garden.

If you have children in your life, your everyday sanctuary can include a space for them. Jessi Bloom, author of Creating Sanctuary, shows you how:

Children are precious, our future, our hope. Wendell Berry writes, “Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” We should expose them to the outdoors and to life beyond themselves as much as possible, as this can bring about so many great opportunities for learning. Not only does outdoor play develop motor and sensory skills, but it can also teach compassion, patience, and acceptance.

Textural contrasts are interesting and stimulating for kids, especially to those that have stared at screens for too long. It’s fun to pair one plant with another, or several, to make a beautiful tapestry in the garden.

Outdoors, children can develop a relationship with other creatures, experiencing an empathetic connection they will most likely carry with them throughout life. Children’s natural curiosity leads them on. My sons began collecting different types of rocks, and it eventually became a ritual on every family vacation to visit geological features and rock shops.

Do you remember the first plant you had a relationship with? Or the first animal you met that became a friend? Drawing on your own memories can help you imagine how to create a children’s sanctuary. You might want to build an enchanted realm there. Although some adults may turn their noses up at the idea of magical beings residing in green areas, it especially resonates with children and those who believe in magic. Creating special sanctuaries for creatures such as fairies can catch the imagination and encourage children to spend time outdoors looking for them, creating natural “homes” for them, and learning an appreciation for the natural world in the process. For ages, these spirit allies, including elves, sprites, angels, nymphs, pixies, and goblins, have been called upon for help. So how do we create an environment to attract these mystical allies?

When picking a color pallet, seek out colors that represent qualities you want to increase in your family life. You can follow your cultural or religious traditions, your intuition, or a combination! These black-eyed susans might conjure joy and confidence for your kiddos, or wealth and prosperity for your home.

Invite your kids to build the space with you following these steps:

  1. Hold good intentions—be kind, believe in them and welcome them.
  2. Create a safe, dedicated space for them.Incorporate an assortment of flowers, foliage, and fruit that you imagine they can use.
  3. Include colorful objects such as flags and ornaments that you think might appeal to small beings.
  4. Add wind chimes or other items that make sounds to call the fairy beings in.



Jessi Bloom is a best-selling author, award-winning ecological landscape designer, and speaker. She owns N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Services, based in the Pacific Northwest, which is known as an innovator and leader in the field of permaculture, sustainable landscape design, construction, and land management. Her work has been recognized by government agencies and industry organizations and makes headlines in national media. She lives near Seattle with her two sons on their permaculture homestead, which is full of functional gardens and rescue animals.


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