The Winterbourne team nurture new life and help it flourish in the garden – and they’re not alone.
The grounds are also home to The Maples Day Nursery, found to the right of the main house entrance. It’s not the kind of nursery you might expect to find in a botanic garden. This one is for children aged 2 to 4 years old, and is one of the University of Birmingham’s three day nurseries for staff, students and local people.
It’s a unique setting for a day nursery. Fittingly, the Maples offers a unique approach to childcare, blending the Curiosity Approach with a passion for sustainability.
The Curiosity Approach was founded by Lyndsey Hellyn and Stephanie Bennett. Their mix of progressive styles of pegagogy borrows elements from Reggio, Steiner, Te Whariki and Montessori, and places the child’s own interests at the heart of every day’s learning journey. The emphasis is on curiosity, awe and wonder for the world around us. Indoor settings are calm, with neutral colours. Outdoor spaces and natural, loose-part play resources are central. The nursery is an extension of home, where the whole family is welcomed, included and respected.
The Maples brings sustainability into the children’s lives through play, and through the nursery environment itself. It’s Birmingham’s only nursery to have committed to no disposable single-use wipes, and uses significantly less plastic than any standard nursery. Cloth nappies are welcomed, and parents are supported to make changes. Sustainability is also embedded in daily play, from saving rainwater for the garden to learning the importance of insects and bees.
Of course, having a seven-acre botanic garden on the doorstep is integral to the Maples experience.
The Winterbourne and Maples teams work in partnership, giving the children endless opportunities to connect with the outdoors. Visits to the botanic garden take place daily, so you may see little ones hunting through for insects with magnifying glasses, on a fairy treasure hunt or just exploring their world. The children also have their own allotment, supported by Winterbourne gardeners. They’re working towards a Royal Horticultural Society gardening award too.