Sunday, December 19, 2010

The blue lagoon

The journey begins
At the end of my last post I encouraged you to consider how to create an enchanted place for children in your own garden since we don’t all have the room or budget for a stone tower or moat! Here is a truly magical garden designed by my good friend Alyson Ross-Markley of Redmond, WA which combines artistry with adventure to great effect. Tucked into a tiny side garden Alyson has managed to create a child-sized tropical jungle for her four young grandchildren.

The tropical bird grants entry into the magical jungle

Maple trees and Ligularia 'Rocket'
tower over Lilly (age 3)
Children (and adventurous grown-ups) begin their journey into the ‘Blue Lagoon’ along a wave shaped gravel pathway. A goofy tropical bird greets visitors who are expected to pay him homage by pulling on his cord. Permission to enter is granted by a bob of his funky head and the clang of bamboo wind chimes dangling below his perch. Stone walls dripping with moss set the scene while bold leaved tropical looking plants provide the understory to the canopy of vine maple trees. Blue pots set along the pathway are at the perfect height for children to discover soft mosses and the oversized snail-like leaf of the ‘Escargot’ rex begonia. The whole effect is of a mysterious, lush jungle – especially when you are only 3’ tall.

A childs world

At the end of the journey the children stop to thank the grumpy old Tiki man by paying a toll (a pea sized pebble). Sometimes little Lilly (pictured here) gives him several to make sure he is extra happy…..

Remember to thank the Tiki man!
Only the sound of chattering monkeys is missing from this enchanted tropical forest but the shrieks of laughter from the pint sized visitors more than makes up for that!

Tropical looking foliage for shady gardens

Rex begonias (annuals in WA)
Calla lily (Zantedeschia)
Coral bells (Heuchera)
Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica)
Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)
Umbrella plant (Darmera)
Japanese butterbur (Petasites)

Photo credits; Alyson Ross-Markley

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