At the Morris Arboretum, this is where the adventure begins. Let’s make a sharp swing to the right. It brings you to the cool and curious structure below, one with intrigue and that little spice of danger, as you walk into the tree canopy. The exhibit explores how we need trees, and why trees need us. A theme very dear to my heart. It also brings out the kid in everyone, and disguises learning as fun. And boy is this exhibit fun!
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live the life of a squirrel or robin, going from tree to tree? Have the freedom to scurry up a tree or build your nest among the tree tops? Take a canopy walk and find out first hand.
Well, at the Morris Arboretum, some very creative architects (Metcalfe Architecture & Design) and engineers must have done just that. They created a forest experience for kids and adults, remembering the joy of building their very first tree house.
But, not like this tree house, no siree. This tree house is way up there, five stories high. This environmentally conscious structure is made from recyclable metal, rot-resistant locust wood decking, and sustainably harvested, renewable Western Red Cedar. Now how cool is that?
The entry above, features a tube-shaped trellis that was designed to give the sense of traveling from standing on the ground to walking into the sky. It sports a series of 10 foot wide wooden hoops, and it is modeled after a trellis in Versailles. Inspiration, wouldn’t you say?
If you wondered how this big structure impacts the environment, (and you can bet that was my first thought), the structural engineers incorporated small foundations called “micro-piles”, where the boardwalk was specially engineered to put the least amount of stress possible on the root systems of the forest trees. This was a most considerate design decision.
They also preserved the greatest amount of original trees too. The exhibit is fifty feet in the air, and if you are squeamish of heights, no worries. The unique experience washes those fears away. Hey, what’s life without a little danger, anyway. The entry ramp gives you a sense of increasing excitement as you make your way up into the tree tops, even though you are firmly anchored, safe and secure.
The netting inside the structure does give kids a thrill of being a squirrel though. Kids scamper onto the Squirrel Scramble’s rope-netting skirting for all kinds of bouncy fun. See what I mean below, but there were no kids this day, (raining, remember), but you can just imagine the fun.
Close up of the Squirrel Scramble.
View from inside looking out. And right outside? Trees of many varieties everywhere.
Like this Umbrella Magnolia. It grows well in these shady conditions and flowers white. It is shunned by deer too. The leaves are up to a foot long. It seems this forest has much that is BIG.
This view is looking straight down to the forest floor below. You can see many of the groundcover plants carpeting the ground surface. Hope you are not afraid of heights!
As the terrain slopes down, your vantage point is at its highest. Remember, we came in at grade when we walked along the 450 foot-long deck.
Here are a couple of groundcover and understory plants, seen below. The forest floor is wonderful habitat and environment. So much happens below, and so much of it is out of our view. Tiny, working and efficient.
Pee Gee Oakleaf Hydrangea
This was the image from the post, The Long and Pretty Views at the Morris Arboretum. Did you guess correctly that this is a people-sized bird nest? The entrance to the nest is decking that is a swaying suspension bridge, allowing the visitors to see trees as a wildlife habitat, and view the world below, just like the birds might from their nests.
And of course, we need some super-sized bird eggs. And speaking of big eggs…
The National Post did a story on this unique structure and its creator, Joel Allen. You must take a look at this project also. The Out on a Limb exhibit made me remember reading about the HemLoft tree house above. It has been featured in U.S. design and architecture magazine, Dwell. It is named, HemLoft, because it was built in a tall Hemlock tree.
Is this not the coolest tree house you ever saw? Allen is an unemployed, self-taught carpenter, and with a lot of searching on Craigslist for materials and supplies, he created this really unique and beautiful structure. It, like Out on a Limb, is fifty feet in the air.
The HemLoft is built on Crown land in British Columbia, Canada. Joel is squatting on Whistler Mountain beneath some of Western Canada’s most luxurious mega-homes. There is actually a poll where you can vote for Joel to keep his structure right where it is. I hope he is successful as he is getting world-wide recognition for his very ‘courageous’ undertaking. He did break the law by building it, so hopefully popular opinion keeps him out of jail and gets him some work out of it.
Coming Up Next on GWGT
We have GBBD in the front yard.
Then upcoming immediately after, the back yard, followed by the side yards and a peek inside in one post. Please stop back because I am not telling you the order of the posts.We go across the street to the Niagara River gorge and see the blooms there, too.
This is a multi-post, home and garden tour. Too much concurrent blooming this year and I mix it up with tours in the park or farm usually, so that is a lot to post about. As in my post, My May Garden, Testing a Flinging Theory, I am posting on my garden pretty often. I tested the theory and like I thought, traffic was down by about twenty percent over my travel posts. Niagara Falls posts are usually the highest, as many come from searches.
I will be traveling a lot this summer into Fall, so the weather calendar will be postponed, even though I have all of June recorded so far.