The Best Trees for Kids

National Tree Day 2012I love trees! I always have and always will. I really enjoy teaching children how respect and enjoy trees.  When it comes to picking my absolute favourite tree for kids I find it incredibly tricky as there are so many! So, I decided to ask some of Australia’s leading tree lovers and fellow kids gardening enthusiasts what their favourite tree is for children and why. As you will see, even some of them had trouble come up with just one.
Prunus Snow Fountains in leaf
Understandably, Wes Fleming from Fleming’s Nurseries and award winner at 2013 Chelsea Flower Show, could not pick just one tree. Wes shares that his favourite fruit tree “without a doubt has to be the Plum x Nectarine Spicezee”. His two year old daughter calls them Applerina and loves the fruit they produce. When picking an ornamental tree for kids, Wes says “The weeping Cherry Snow Fountains are a great hiding place for hide and seek, or a great tree for climbing would be the Ulmus parvifolia Todd” (also known as the Chinese Elm).
Clair Levander, host of Brisbane’s 4BC Talking Gardening, loves mulberry trees. “The best tree for kids is the mulberry tree, it livens the senses, is yummo and colours up the garden”. She believes all kids should experience the fun of being covered in mulberry juice.
Laura Trotta, environmental engineer and owner of Sustainababy also had trouble choosing. Her favourite trees include frangipanis in Queensland, red river gums in South Australia, myrtle beeches in Tasmania and the eucalypts of the Victorian High Country. However when it comes to picking a tree that is great for kids she loves flowering gums, “Kids love to decorate gum nuts like the characters in the classic Australian story Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”.
Lehmanns Mallee trees are great for kids.
Narelle Debenham, founder and director of Natured Kids, loves the Lehmann’s Mallee tree. “It’s a great tree to inspire creative and imaginative play with children. The flower bud caps fall off and when collected by children, these loose ‘parts’ (play props) make great tiger’s claws or witches fingernails. Examples of these mature trees can often be found in your neighborhood as street tree plantings, school yards and public places for example McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park in Langwarrin, or the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens here in Victoria.”
Kate Pickle, early childhood educator and blogger at Picklebums is another fan of “the humble gum. We have a stand of big old sugar gums along the back of our property and they offer my kids hours of fun with a few low branches to climb as well as loads of leaves and sticks and gumnuts to create with. They are also home to stick insects and other creatures and are full of our bees when they flower.”
Caro Webster, advocate of free play, author and blogger from Caro & Co, has three favourite trees for kids. Her tops picks are “Weeping willows for swinging from, Moreton Bay figs for climbing and Atlantic Cedars for cubby houses.”
Paperbark trees are great for kids
As for me, like I said before, I have trouble picking just one. I love any tree of a weeping variety. They look magical and make fantastic cubby houses for kids. I also love deciduous trees that drop beautiful leaves for jumping and rolling in during the cooler months. There is one particular tree though that I think is so versatile for kids – the great Paperbark tree. Their gnarly branches and the flaky texture of the bark is so intriguing for children. They are good for climbing and the bark can be used in many creative ways. I’ve seen children use the bark to make play props such as boats, fairy wings and blankets for their toys. They are also a great Australian icon and perfect to plant for National Tree Day.
To find out more about about National Tree Day and how you can be involved visit the Planet Ark website.