Family Garden Features
The Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin Family Garden will be a place where children can learn and rediscover, through play and exploration, the joy of being outside and immersed in nature. Whether they're playing tag or flying kites on our Giant Play Lawn, climbing and cavorting in our Hide-and-Seek Stumpery or finding their way through our Metamorphosis Maze, kids of all ages will experience that nature is indeed - FUN!
"Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. And the best place for these experiences is outdoors, in the natural world."
- Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children's Learning
The Family Garden will more than double the number of children we serve with features like this simple maze that gently challenges children and fosters a sense of autonomy, while illustrating the states of metamorphosis. It is a metaphor for life's journey - full of twists, turns, dead-ends and rewards. Sheared native shrubs such as cenizo, yaupon and Barbados cherry form hedges will have an average height of 3 feet so parents can keep an eye on the little ones.
"Learning to Love the natural world enough to protect it."
- Louise Chawla, Norwegian Centre for Child Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The Family Garden will boost our already robust youth education program by providing quality programming and learning activities linked to the state-mandated Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills with guided school tours and free lesson plans. In these larger-than-life birds nests, woven with vines and branches and accessible by small ramps, children can imagine themselves as nestlings, roll and tend wooden eggs and explore native plants needed by birds.
"Being in, or even looking at, nature makes human beings behave more human—it makes you nicer. Many studies have shown the health benefits of nature range from more rapid healing to stress reduction to improved mental performance and vitality. Now we know people are more caring when they're around nature."
- Richard Ryan, Ph.D. University of Rochester. 2009
Nature is replete with spirals, which foster natural curiosity about patterns in nature. Colorful mosaics here will show the twisted blossoms of Turk's cap, overlapping spiral seeds in the head of a sunflower, curved shells of a snail and coils of a scorpion's tail, adorning a low, curving wall lined with agaves, horsetail, buttonbush, ferns and other native plants. As a Sustainable Sites Initiative™ pilot project, the garden will meet the rigorous standards of the international rating system for sustainable landscapes.
"Since 1997, the amount of time children ages 9-12 spend participating in outdoor activities has declined 50 percent. Instead, children are playing video games, watching TV or on the computer. Such sedentary activities are linked to the rise in childhood obesity."
- Sandra Hofferth, Ph.D. University of Maryland. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. Vol. 1, No. 1
Nearly a mile of trails will showcase the natural beauty of the woodland and savanna topography. In addition to the enjoyment of walking through a canopy in the trees, listening to the tranquil sounds of wind chimes and exploring water features like our Hill Country Grotto, the Central Garden Creek and Watering Holes. The family garden will provide the perfect place for children to run, play and learn.
"The greatest threat to conservation...may be more subtle than bulldozers and chainsaws as children and families spend more time indoors. Direct experience with nature is the most highly cited influence on environmental attitude and conservation activism."
- Oliver Pergams, Ph.D. and Patricia Zaradic, Ph.D., The Nature Conservancy, 2007