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Willow play houses installed as final finishing touch on residential playscapeRead More
Okay, not exactly. But because many of BTD’s projects require rehabilitation of depleted, urban soils, mycorrhizal inoculants are a sustainable and inexpensive component of our soil amendment specifications. Mycorrhizae are fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plants, stimulating their root growth while promoting the uptake of particular nutrients in exchange for others. Individual plant species often have unique partnerships with individual mycorrhiza species. Because of this selectivity, we make sure to specify inoculant products that contain a large variety of mycorrhizae. There are several products on the market that cost pennies per plant and are easy for commercial landscape contractors to apply during planting.
Bay Tree Design recently collaborated with two organizations: the public agency StopWaste and the non-profit Trees for Oakland Flatlands, to develop a plant resource guide for Bay Area schoolyards and children's landscapes located in Sunset Zone 17. Plants are an easy way to enrich the children's spaces when thoughtfully chosen.
This resource provides a list of plants that considers adult perspectives - such as code compliance, low maintenance, durability, performative and ecological value, and beauty - as well as play and learning affordances for children. Children see plants as learning elements, play props, scenery, scale, texture, harbingers of change, and the "feeling" of a space.
One excellent example of plant and tree use in a schoolyard is Coombes in England. When Sue Humphries was the Head Mistress, she had all of the trees maintained to the scale of the children. The main play yard was mostly paved with asphalt, yet the tree branches overhung the asphalt and were trimmed to the height of the children. This created a magical effect and a much different feeling of the space. The children could pick leaves to play with, "hide" under the trees, and play in the dappled shade.
With this list, we try to provide the plants and trees suited to our own East Bay microclimate that can be used to create the kind of children’s space available at Coombes.
Enjoy this resource and use it to enrich the spaces in your schoolyard for the adults and the children who inhabit them.
We had the pleasure this spring of working with a local artist, Jillian Banks-Kong (http://www.jillianbanks-kong.com), on the creation of a bronze sculpture of a bear for a residential garden and children's outdoor play space. The piece was created as part of a dry creek water play area that includes a water-pump, climbing rocks, and bridge. In a month or two willow playhouses will arrive to finish off the piece.
After much anticipation, the bear was finished and ready to be installed this week. He now rests happily in his new home among the ferns at the edge of his very own creek waiting for his next fish to arrive.