Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne played host to an outdoor event to engage the senses and connect with nature. To celebrate our native land, to educate and engage the beauty of outdoor play. An experience for all who ventured inside the magical world of BOTANICA – a village built from Australiana and wonder.
After the success of Botanica at Melbourne Gardens, the village will now be built at Cranbourne Gardens. Curated by artist Darryl Cordell, and inspired by his childhood in the bush, Botanica offers families the opportunity to work together to build a unique village. Be part of our community of villagers as we build makeshift cubbies and structures using natural materials collected from the Gardens. Come along for an hour or bring a picnic and spend the day.
A perfect day spent outdoors with friends and family, we ventured take part in the community of villagers, building tee-pee shelters that were tested in the wind and rain with sunshine in between. The natural materials collected from around the gardens got the senses working. Team work was instant as the kids collected and gathered materials together, placing them strategically to hold shape of their shelter.
Senses worked overtime as the aromatics of gum and lemon myrtle rubbed off onto hands. Sticks were long and some sharp, making them aware of their surroundings and their own bodys. Creativity found a home and provided endless hours of builing and team work.
Ceativity was expressed and imagination was key in mouding and shaping clay to add to pieces of our natural world. Children were encouraged to create an australiana animal using a mix of pods and nuts. Encouraging them to then look at their creation and name it based on latin plant botany. Acantho – our spiny, prickly echidna and Raccy the raccon were placed in the re-created red dessert.
Basket Weaving took place under a bark hut with a hands on activity to learn the traditional ways of using native grasses. Different weaving styles provided a different structure and strength for indivialul baskets. Basket weaving is not as easy as it looks and has promted us to learn the art.
Leaf Wonderings – leaves are each perfectly adapted to catch sunlight and create energy. We explored the different shapes, colours, sizes and smells of them all. Taking a piece of calico fabric, we placed a leaf underneath, rubbing crayon over the top to reveal the leafs distinct patterns and outlines. Taking a brush and watercolour paints over the crayon reacting with the wax creating a smear of organic colours and shapes.
Leaf rubbings were an instant picture as individual artworks flagged the boundary.
Giant insect hotel intrigued everyone as it had quickly become home to spiders who weaved webs and ants that seemed to be in search of nectar.
A day for the senses filled our world as environmental activites presented us with education from our natural world – Australia. Senses were overloaded, immagination was fuelled, interaction with others and the land created a sense of belonging to the outdoors as we learnt to understand it, care for it, be mindful of it and respect it.
Nature play is a term used to describe the creation of simple play oppertunities in the natural environment. Hours of play encouraged the kids to take part in environmental activities – Physically, mentally, emotionally and socially; kids do better outside.
An abolute credit to Darryl Cordell for allowing everyone to take part in his childhood memories. Also, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne & Cranbourne for hosting this wonderful event and Nature Play Week for promoting the event to invite people to come and see the wonders that outdoor play and creativity can provide.