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After years of outdoor play, the Children’s Garden at Evergreen Brick Works gets an update

The Children’s Garden reopens with water play, new structures after two phases of revitalization

Campers play on new elements in the Children's Garden Image: Leah Silverman
Image: Leah Silverman

Published on July 29, 2019

We’ve heard it loud and clear: educators, children and parents alike love the Children’s Garden at Evergreen Brick Works. For almost a decade, families, schools and educators have visited the Garden, playing with loose parts, singing around the campfire and making crafts from natural materials.

But after so many years of bringing joy and laughter to visitors from around the world, the beloved Children’s Garden was starting to show its age.

To continue evolving what we’re able to offer in the Garden, we began the process to develop new ideas for the space. We asked children what they wanted to see during Weekend Nature Play and heard feedback from visitors of all ages, both of which informed updates to the design.

Getting children involved in the planning process is essential to our work, since they are the ones who will be using the space most. Why not design for them?

Camper standing on shade structure in the Children's Garden

After reviewing the incredible ideas we heard, our urban design specialists – who work on projects from public art to school ground design and everything in between – had settled on a range of new elements we were excited to get started on.

The work was split into two phases: phase one focused on the terrain and phase two introduced water play. In fall 2018 we focused on phase one, introducing new heights to climb and landscapes to traverse. Read more about phase one

Embedded in this enchanted play environment is the Mountain, the Wolf Den, and the Beaver Lodge. These special features have been generously supported by The Henry and Berenice Kaufmann Foundation.

Campers going down a natural slide in the Children's Garden

The Mountain is a mound designed to introduce visitors to new terrain and challenging landscapes. The Wolf Den and Beaver Lodge are both new structural elements of the Garden, inspired by animal allies and beaver architecture.

More recently, we completed phase two in the spring of 2019. Aptly titled our Waterworks Studio, phase two features elements that are both practical and playful.

Campers playing with new water elements in the Children's Garden

Through the acts of lifting, carrying, channelling, mixing, spraying and pumping, the Studio will engage children in the pleasure and power of water.

The water stations, designed by artist-in-residence Ferruccio Sardella, entice visitors to explore the exciting properties of water as it interacts with other natural materials. The Waterworks Studio was directly influenced by children telling us outright “We want to play with water!”

Campers playing with new water elements in the Children's Garden

Now that the changes are complete, we are so excited to fully reopen the Children’s Garden to the public once again. It will still feel the same, but there are plenty of new elements for our loyal visitors to notice and enjoy. These latest changes to the Children’s Garden landscape are designed to challenge and inspire, introducing new possibilities for outdoor learning and play to this iconic and beloved space.

We can’t wait for you to come and play with us!

Interested in learning more about incorporating nature into your outdoor learning and play? Check out our Resources and Projects on the subject, or find tools and resources from Children and Nature Network.

Thank you to our generous sponsor Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting the revitalization, and to WSP Engineering, GNL, Oriole Landscaping and Ferruccio Sardella for their continued support of this project.