Playground at the Boston Nature Center

The “Nature Nook” is a delightful natural play space on the grounds of the Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Mattapan neighborhood of the city. In about eight years since the playground’s construction, the vegetation has grown nicely to form a cozy play space consisting of several “rooms” of activity areas. The playground includes all the important elements of nature-based play: water, sand/dirt, wood, plants, rocks, and hills. Additional features include a stage with seating, planters for gardening, music and art spaces, a building construction area, a gathering (seating) space, and a boardwalk.


Pergola with vines at the playground entrance


Water pump and stone stream bed, with adjacent sand play area


Children exploring the woods


Musical play, grass hill, and stage with seating


Building construction area, including a permanent wooden frame that children can lean sticks against to form forts and other structures


Boardwalk through the woods


Climbing log


Bridge over the stream bed; near the sand play, dirt play, gardening, and art areas

Photos by Alice Webb
Project Design by StudioMLA Architects, Brookline, MA

Advertisements

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve



About 20 years ago, I designed a system of trails, observation decks, steps, and boardwalks for a 136-acre nature preserve in Cary, North Carolina. It was an absolute delight to work on this project, because Hemlock Bluffs is such a magical place – a natural oasis within an area of suburban development. It features a series of tall north-facing bluffs that shelter a community of Eastern Hemlocks. This is unusual because these trees typically do not grow naturally in the piedmont region of North Carolina – this species is much more common in the cooler Appalachian Mountains more than 200 miles to the west. In addition, the preserve includes an extensive upland forest and a wooded floodplain area with vernal pools and a rich variety of plants.



A system of steps takes visitors down along the bluffs.



One of several observation decks affords views of large Hemlock trees growing on the bluffs.



Plant beds near the Stevens Nature Center building are filled with native wildflowers and trees.



A boardwalk meanders through a lush floodplain.

Photos by Alice Webb