Nature’s Place is West Dalhousie School’s outdoor classroom! Imagined by the students and teachers of West Dalhousie in 2006, it was completed and opened in 2008. Nature’s Place is a learning environment for our students, from watching the seasons change to learning how to take care of the space to exploring all aspects of curriculum in nature.
Nature’s Place is divided into many different areas representing different growing areas in Alberta. To the north of the front door, you will find the Woodlands, filled with tall trees and shrubs. Next to the woodlands, an ampitheatre (a circular design of large layered sandstone) was constructed as an outdoor classroom” that brings to mind the wooden amphitheaters found in many campgrounds in western Canada, or the amphitheaters used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. How wonderful to think of where students are transported in their imaginations when using this amazing space.
The gardens directly adjacent to the front of the school are referred to as the Rocky Outcroppings. This part of Nature’s Place is the most sheltered, both from the elements and the daily drumming of hundreds of feet, and it is where there is the most chance of observing delicate plants.
When looking to the south of the school’s front doors, in the middle of the school yard is the area known as the Grasslands. This small hill is filled with the wild grasses found in native prairies. This area can be quite weedy, as it is in nature. Please feel free to pull out any crab/quack grass or dandelions out of this area!
The remainder of Nature’s Place is made up of the Foothills, an area with gentle deciduous trees and a dry creek bed to simulate a meandering stream. Trees and shrubs you can find in this area include the Green Ash, Potentilla, Nanking Cherry, Blue Spruce, Trembling Aspen, Dogwood, Snowberry, and more!
Nature’s Place isn’t perfect; weeds and minor maintenance will always be required, and volunteers will always be needed and appreciated! Whether you sign up for the spring weeding bee, a summer weeding volunteer, attend school council meetings, or just stop and pick a handful of dandelions before they go to seed, every bit counts!