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Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are small personally managed ‘take a book or leave a book’ libraries. They are usually adorable. You can look at their Flickr gallery to see some examples of the awesomeness that people create.

If you want to have your library registered and affiliated with the site you need to pay a small fee. They send you an official plaque and list your library on their map so people can find you.

I would like to make mine with a green roof! I am not a builder type though and have no tools. I have a couple of friends who are and I plan on commissioning them to make this for me.

landscape-littlelibrary-sketchplans-web

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Jumping and Creating

Kids playing in the’Nature Zone’ Playspace.

The tree stump circle is either used for jumping
jumping-naturezone

or for building on…

These are rolly poly houses.

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Final houses:
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Lagurus ovatus

Laguras ovatus
Lagurus ovatus, or bunnytail, in my yard last Spring.

Lagurus ovatus is highly adorable. I had it planted in a couple of containers this summer, including this old colander. Most the kids who visited my yard made a beeline for it and spent some time petting it.

I like this in containers and used as a border. It self sows though, so if you don’t want to see it in the next year you can trim the seed heads before they dry and blow all over the place. If you do want to see them next year let the seeds dry and then collect them.

How do you store seeds?
I often use old pharmacy medicine bottles.

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Christmas day nature art

I bought myself the book Land Art in Town: Simple Inspiration Through the Seasons for Christmas this year. It is an awesome book. The author, Marc Pouyet, hung out in cities across Europe and made and photographed his land art. I call it nature art and think of land art as bigger earthworks type stuff. I’m more drawn to this smaller scale, urban, unexpected art using nature.

Here are some of the things my sister, son and I created.

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Olive Percival and her children’s gardens

The other day in a used bookstore I came across a book called ‘The Children’s Garden Book’ by Olive Percival. I now know this is only an excerpt from the full, never published, manuscript.

The first line of the forward is, “This is a book of suggestions for children to whom destiny has given such golden things as a plot of ground and many hours, or several years, uninterrupted by the city’s call (ever more insistent, clamorous) to indoor amusement”.

And further down, “If, for the first ten or twelve or fourteen years of life, the children of today could have personal flower gardens in which to play, to study, to read, to work, to dream, the world tomorrow would be greatly lightened of it’s ugly and menacing burden of materialism and general faithlessness”.

The next section of the book are thoughts and notes to the “to the young gardener”.

Here is an example, “Long ago, in Elizabethan England and when our colonial history was just beginning, a bouquet was not called a bouquet nor a nosegay nor a boughpot by those of highest fashion. It was called a tussy-mussy! Nobody seems to know why.”

Thanks to the internet you can read all about tussy-mussies!

The books goes on with more tidbits and advice and then she shares her garden plans for children. Things like “the Fairy Ring”, “The Kate Greenaway Garden”, and “the Moonlight Pleasance”. Each garden comes with a plant list, and illustration and planting plan and text describing details of the garden.

Olive Percival in her garden

“In this our lovely and bedazzling world – a perplexing world that deafens and deadens us with screaming sirens, rattling dragons, many toys, and noisy amusements (omg, girl, you have no idea.) – we contrive to to remain avowed lovers of flowers, even if allowed little time or place to make plants grow and willingly or unwillingly come into blossoms.”

It is so sweet. I fell in love with Olive Percival. Besides being a gardener of some fame and a published writer and poet, she was also a book and doll collector, an antique hat collector AND a milliner, an expert on Chinese and Japanese art, a traveler, and a photographer and generally a mover and shaker amongst the intellectual set of southern CA.

I love her because not only was she sweet and all into flowers, paper dolls, cats and 19th century children’s books but she was also a feminist and could bust out a bit of snark. We would have been friends for sure. Here’s a quote from an article she wrote for the LA Times in 1910,

“As for equal suffrage, I have never in my life heard one sane argument against it. I think the only argument that men who are opposed to the measure have ever advanced in justification of their unfair and un-American position, is that they do not want women to lose their delicacy and charm by rough contact with matters political. This is not ‘sentiment’ but sentimentality. . . . There is no sense or intelligence about it. Women must live in the world as truly as men and in many instances they are as well equipped for the actualities of life as men. . . .”

I have acquired one other book written by her, “Our Old Fashioned Flowers”. The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA has her diaries and photographs.
I may have to road trip to the Huntington Library to see her photographs and all the gardens and art that it looks like that museum and botanic garden have. It looks awesome! They have a tea room! Maybe I will go by myself for my 40th birthday (fast approaching).

– Olive May Graves Percival (July 1, 1869 – February 18, 1945).

You can read more about her here.

I HIGHLY recommend listening to this 30 minute talk about her life. *sniff*

Oh, and someone’s term paper on her life here.

The more you read about her the more awesome she gets.

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Hermit crab cityscapes

Okay, this contains many of my favorite things.

Amazing tiny things!
Small animal!
3D printing!
More miniature things!
Art idea that most people would think, “What?! WHY?”

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Artist Aki Inomata creates beautiful plastic shell for hermit crabs that are crafted into elegant cityscapes.

You can watch a short video here.

Reading articles about Ani’s work led me to this article on Inhabitat about Maker Bot’s Project Shelter and the shortage of hermit crab shells.

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Accessible playgrounds in the Bay Area

I want all children to have access to playgrounds and nature. One of the main problems I see with accessible playgrounds is that the designers lose site of the whole nature part.

How do we make sure playgrounds are inclusive of children of all abilities but still include all the the things kids need to play and learn?

How can it REALLY be done? Not just following the letter of ADA compliance that result in playgrounds with no nature and too much hot plastic surfacing?

I’m reading and thinking on this. Playgrounds can be crazy expensive. Natural elements might seem to imply too much risk, uncertainty and unrealistic upkeep needs. Why? And what to do?

Is no playground better than a playground some kids can’t access? Both scenarios are disheartening.

Some interesting resources:
Bay Area Accessible Playground Finder

http://www.accessibleplayground.net/

Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA

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A Starling Murmuration in Downtown SF

This is amazingly beautiful! A murmuration is a flock of starlings flying around in sync. They create beautiful patterns and it is lovely to watch. I love that this beautiful natural phenomenon was captured happening in bustling downtown San Francisco.

Here’s an article in Wired about scientific explanations for these murmurations.

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Chalk dots

Someone left the big chalk sticks outside in the rain. When they are wet they make brighter more saturated marks and that is fun.

chalk dots

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Squirrel Tea Party in the Garden

squirrel tea party

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