New garden at Mt Clear kindergarten designed by award-winner Wes Fleming

OSCAR Howlett doesn’t know his Mt Clear Kindergarten garden has been designed by an international award-winner.

All he wants to do is run through the bamboo tunnel with his new friends.

But the all-natural wonderland, created by Chelsea Flower Show 2013 award-winner Wes Fleming, was opened yesterday by Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris during the first day of four-year-old kindergarten.

Mr Fleming said he did not have to be dragged “kicking and screaming” to the garden, which was a joint project between Fleming’s Nurseries, Ballarat City Council, UnitingCare and kindergarten group ECKA.

“I started nagging Rosemarie (Calvert) to get involved,” Mr Fleming said, adding he was carrying out similar projects at other Ballarat kindergartens and throughout Melbourne.

“Part of why we got involved in childcare was to create a better place for kids to grow up and learn and get outside.

“We also help educate mums and dads but also councillors, mayors and councils about the importance of open space.

“We as humans need public open spaces and I think it’s important we get the message through to the next generation.”

Mr Fleming said the garden had been designed purely with children in mind, with a sandpit lid that keeps animals out by night but is a car track by day.

A fort is made purely of rough timber and a range of twisted logs can be used as steps, seats or transformed via imagination into horses, dragons or even gangplanks. 

There is a plant maze, fruit orchard and a mini-racetrack, along with a vegetable garden that the children will plant.

“ We want them to be safe, to grow, to learn.”

The council’s family and children’s services manager Rosemarie Calvert said she was inspired by Mr Fleming’s natural approach.

Mt Clear Kindergarten committee secretary Lorelle Stephens said: “We knew we were getting a playground but what they’ve created is amazing.”

Wendouree, Buninyong, Midlands and Miners Rest kindergartens are also to get new Fleming-inspired gardens.