In the Swing
many children may be budding gardeners, most of the
time they prefer to play. The degree to which you plan
your garden with this in mind is up to you. The famous
Californian garden designer Thomas Church was once told
by a young couple that his design for their town garden
had to enable their daughter to ride her bicycle.
So Church planned the whole garden around a circular
rideway – because he knew that in a limited space
riding a bike round and round was more fun that up and
The range of garden toys on offer is huge but they don't
all sit easily with your flowerbeds and lawn. So a word
of advice is look for one toy or play activity that
has stand-alone and long-term appeal (like the bike
track). And, in the confusion of choice, don't forget
that some of the oldest, simplest and cheapest options
are sometimes the best. Take the swing.
In my experience children get more hours of pleasure
out of a swing than any other garden toy (don't ask
me why, I'm a journalist not a child psychologist).
Whether on their own or playing with friends, a swing
can produce seemingly endless happiness of a kind that
always draws them back. This is crucial; the attention
span that many toys are able to grab is limited. But
if your child is playing on their swing at the start
of the holidays they will still be doing so a few days
before going back to school.
You can accommodate a swing in almost any garden. If
you don't have a large tree you'll need to buy a swing
with a metal frame from which it is suspended. We are
lucky enough to have a big oak tree with a suitable
horizontal branch and I made the simplest, but arguably
the most effective type of swing, one with a single
rope attached to the centre of a flat board seat.
The single rope means that the swing has less restrictions
than the traditional one with two ropes attaching to
the sides of the seat. If you live anywhere near the
coast you'll be able to get a length of proper rope
from a firm of boat chandlers, otherwise go to a builders'
The seat needs to be a hard wood for durability and
make sure the hole you drill is dead centre. Oh, of
course, make sure it is very firmly attached to the
branch and check it every few months.
reprinted with permission from Greenfingers.com