Our StoryWhen Oxford City Council decommissioned the very dilapidated mini-golf course in our local park, we thought that the area could be re-purposed and designed as a outdoor space for play, wildlife and learning and our project began.
What is Naturescape?A garden in an urban park: nature in mind and wellbeing at heart"
The idea for Naturescape evolved when Oxford City Council decommissioned the very dilapidated mini-golf course in our local park. We thought that the area could be re-purposed and designed as a outdoor space for play, wildlife and learning... and our project began!
NaturEscape is a designed garden for family-centred play and learning. It is designed with the following key ingredients:
Place – a sense of belonging to a community in a lesser known part of the city.
People – a community with wide reaching cultural diversity
Plants – which are so important for education, survival and beauty
Play – relaxation essential for healthy human development and wellbeing.
Drawing on the philosophy of the Forest School movement and the inspiration of local people, this garden will be home for various groups that support outdoor play, exploration, and interaction with natural elements such as water, fire and vegetation. The focus is on developing confidence and self-esteem through creative and hands-on experiences in a natural setting.
What will our Naturescape Garden be like?Our project will be innovative in that the imperative is good unobtrusive design that feels like a natural landscape which is supportive for educative play and well being. It will be an exploratory space with the emphasis on planting wild flowers and edible foraging. It will be located within and integral to a much loved urban park and support a culturally diverse community with both economic and social disadvantage and thriving entrepreneurial spirit.
It will also support ecological diversity with rainwater harvesting, native hedging and bee and insect friendly planting and of course the pond
It will be stewarded by programmes to support communication, social cohesion, increase confidence and reduce anxiety.
It will be a dog free area as this has been requested by many families – particularly from some communities who have told us that the number of dogs in the main park puts them off using the park or letting children run free there.
Our site is currently more like a small field than a forest or a garden! We have two magnificent Horse chestnuts on the boundary of the park, part of an extensive avenue planted when the park was built in 1934. We will plant trees and new hedges– wild fruit trees, Field maples and fruit bushes – but we need to introduce natural elements for play much more quickly whilst the trees grow.
Our solution is to create a series of 'rooms' in a species rich grass area, using mixed native hedging and insect friendly dry hedging, a 'water room' for our pond, a 'fire room' for a fire pit and gathering circle, an 'air room' for grasses and wind feature and an 'earth room' for play with logs, rocks and a mud kitchen. a meadow can house paths and dens, to cut dens and nooks into the mature hornbeam hedging, create a hillock and a pond. A sensory path will meander through the centre of the plot. We will create create a journey of exploration of the environment using activities throughout the year, including foraging, planting, wildlife observation and creative play. Insect and bee friendly planting and the pond will encourage biodiversity on the site and fulfil a crucial role in creating an ecosystem.To find out more about the project please visit: https://www.naturescapeoxford.co.uk/