Sprucing up the ship

The Copse, our children’s play area in Lady Anne’s garden, is going from strength to strength

Children playing on the gyro spyroThe play area was started in 2012 when the Quentin Blake exhibition came to Rosemoor. It all began with the building of the ‘Green Ship’ and is continually being developed, with more play equipment added and planting improved.

Last year saw the addition of the fun, scream-inducing, spyro gyro, (especially enjoyed by the Rosemoor staff during morning safety checks!)

Planting-the-Green-Ship-April-2012-credit-Sheila-Dearing-940x627-(1).jpgSo this is how the Green Ship first looked, now it is very well established and is very popular with children and adults alike. The ship’s structure is made from wood and supported by metal. The main shape of the boat is formed from Portuguese laurels (Prunus lusitanica) with two ‘masts’ of upright hornbeams (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata') and a metal, up-cycled tree guard ‘funnel’.

More recent pictures of the children's play areaThe laurel is cut as an informal hedge once a year. As this is an area for imaginative play, a freer, more creative cut on the hedge is called for, in comparison to the extremely formal lines of hedges in the Formal Garden.

A few Prunus lusitanica facts

Common name Portuguese laurel; it is best cut in late spring or early summer and as you can see from the pictures, makes an excellent evergreen, hedge – it can tolerate very hard pruning, even back into old wood where it will rejuvenate. 

It is a handsome plant, wearing dark green, glossy leaves on red petioles (leaf stalks). If left unpruned the plant produces fragrant racemes of creamy, white flowers which then develop into small red fruit that change colour through to a dark purple. The plants are very tolerant and will grow happily in sun, semi-shade, shade and most soils except shallow chalk - provided there is adequate moisture.

Watch this space for more developments to The Copse; there are rumours that the next addition will be some living willow tunnels

More fun for children

Summer holiday events
Rocket Science is the theme for family fun at all four RHS Gardens this summer

Getting kids into gardening
Ideas to encourage a love of horticulture

Gardening books for children
From I-Spy at RHS Garden Wisley to growing veg

Discuss this

for the site or to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.