The Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden, designed by landscape architect, Herb Schaal.
Opened July 8, 2010, this remarkable garden was inspired by well-known children’s books by Maine authors. The garden was created to inspire fun and discovery for children of all ages. Divided into separate spaces, each possess an individual identity.
This garden has many design features unique, colorful, educational, and thoroughly interesting. One such garden is the learning garden with edible plants.
There is an English inspired design, the maze garden.
This two-acre garden is unique for a public garden in that it was designed to only have one entrance and one exit. To ensure safety for children, the garden is enclosed with fencing, vegetation and walls. There is also trained staff to ensure and watch for the safety of the children.
The learning garden has built structures like the play cottage with the prairie dropseed grass roof. Many of the plants in this garden encourage butterflies, both flying and as caterpillars.
More interactive play.
The archway is created by super-sized garden tools. This is such a creative and whimsical touch. It plays with scale also, to make one psychologically feel small and childlike, part of a storybook world.
Fun in the treehouse for kids, but I bet a few adults climb up too. The treehouse overlooks a bear cave, now how much fun is that?
Does this little boy not look like he is right out of a storybook?
The interactive art play area has kids loving the water feature.
The maze area
You can see in this image how much these structures are used.
I toured these gardens with Carolyn, from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens. We had a wonderful time and she did a post on the natural stone seating found in the gardens, Natural Rock Garden Seating. My photos are less topic specific in that I take the photos from an overall design perspective.
Look for her to highlight certain plants from this garden. We found so many unique specimens grown in some of the most unlikeliest of conditions. And growing very well, I might add. She might have a post on that as we talked about how and why they might be growing so well in shade and sun conditions not recommended, and how if a viewer tries this at home, they could be a bit disappointed. It was how they partnered plants and their underground watering system that made the plants flourish. Plus all the volunteer care. I hope she does this post because I know she took photos and it would prove very useful to gardeners.
And here is a conceptual project that I designed for an adaptive reuse of an old building, turning it into a Children’s Art Center. The redesigned interior of the building is below.
What you are seeing below is the proposed new construction in the Alleyway Mews, in addition to mixed use development to revitalize an existing urban area in Buffalo. It was a corridor streetscape featuring the Children’s Art Center as a centerpiece.
Shop owners are to live in the buildings where they sell their goods, or the space above are to be rented as apartments.
The Alleyway at the Children’s Art Center, below, was designed as an interactive garden, play area and outdoor covered sales and demonstration area for the kids. The project was not built, but was highly acclaimed as an innovative use of urban space. It was presented to the city to generate interest in urban adaptive reuse and an affinity for the arts starting at a young age. I constructed a model (not shown) that was displayed in the office of the sitting mayor.
I did this project in 1994 to 1995. It has many of the components used in the Coastal Maine Children’s Garden, such as the over-sized whimsical elements. Also, the small town feel and interactive play elements to encourage discovery and learning.
I have many drawings of the distinctive features, but this post is long enough already. It was a large project, and also not shown, was the Children’s Theatrical Center at the other end of the Mews. The Mews was to encourage family pedestrian traffic in a park-like condition, with shops and residential dwellings along the way. The project was compiled in a book which included all the complexity of the concept and illustrated all the detailed ideas.
This image above is the narrow pocket park in the Alleyway. It is a greenspace needed for a busy urban life. The garden art was to be all child-like and bigger than life, characters you might find in children’s books. And of course, the kids get to be ‘famous’ having their names or footprints stamped in concrete like below.
There will be much more from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens coming up on GWGT. We have more garden walks too, plus a look around the Falls at the end of Summer.