The Toyota Children’s Garden is a community garden located in a small lot in New York’s East Village. Designed for the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit group that oversees a number of community gardens throughout the neighborhood and throughout the city, the garden was funded by the Toyota Corporation. The lushness of the garden and the textures of marble, black locust wood, gravel, and stainless steel that were introduced to the space create a hidden world of material and natural exploration within the ad hoc urban courtyard formed by the surrounding buildings.
A children’s garden is an opportunity to engage children in the close observation of nature and to speak to the various conditions that affect the way that plants grow – shade, sunlight, moisture, and soil composition. The Toyota Children’s Garden, with its high level of variety, encourages a level of interaction and exploration that would not be possible in the highly active space of a typical city playground or park. Living and non-living garden features like the long black locust log benches that can seat more than a dozen children comfortably, or the contrast between smooth strips of marble and crunchy gravel under foot, or the smell of a skunk cabbage in spring, activate multiple sensory experiences simultaneously. Throughout the garden, raised beds feature different groupings of plants with specific microclimatic preferences. Sailing over the distinctive pathway made of varied strips of marble, a tall stainless steel pipe arbor supports a mature hardy kiwi vine which was found in the original space and preserved.
New York Restoration Project