a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Jul, 2007

The most kid-friendly garden in our ‘hood

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Westboro|Easy ways to make kids happy|Misc. life|Photography

When the girls and I walk to the park (which is often) we pass lots of houses on the way. Out of all these houses there is one standout. It’s our favourite. In fact, when the girls were younger I had to leave an extra 10 minutes just so we could spend some time at this house. We still like to stop and stare, point and exclaim.

It’s not the house so much as the garden. From a horticultural perspective it is absolutely lovely. The garden looks like a postcard. It is perfectly cultivated, and there’s something flowering all year round. The girls appreciate the beauty of this, but the thing that’s caught their eye for so many years has been the DINOSAURS. Yes. There are dinosaurs in the garden. But they’re not the dangerous Jurassic Park type. They’re small, mostly made out of rubber or plastic. They peer out from under branches. They gather for meetings. Yesterday it looked like the dinosaurs were either worshipping a giant grasshopper or about to beat him up.  And yes, sometimes they eat one another.

It’s a live-version of I Spy, that’s what it is.

What’s more, the dinosaurs are mysteriously rearranged whenever we pass by. A new scene always requires a little more “figuring.”

Hey, what’s that guy doing over there?
Do dinosaurs climb trees?
Mummy, it’s a PARADE !
What are they doing in the BIRDBATH???

A couple summers ago I asked the lady of the house who was moving them around. She told me that the neighborhood children did it. I was a little shocked. After all, I never let my kids tromp around her perfect-looking lawn. We always stood on the curb looking in. But she was okay with it, that is, as long as no one ventured into the flowerbeds.

From that day on we too joined in the play.

Sarah set this one up:

I liked these guys (click to enlarge):



This year, some hand painted signs appeared among the flowerbeds, asking children not to damage the flowers. But the dinosaurs are still there. The gardener could have easily banished them, but they remain and continue to make our walks – and our lives – a little bit more interesting.

Last summer we donated one of our own dinosaurs. I believe it was a Triceratops. We left him on the front step with a note of thanks.

8 Responses to "The most kid-friendly garden in our ‘hood"

1 | Kim

July 14th, 2007 at 10:12 am


That is the coolest thing I have ever heard/seen! It must be so fun to see how they will be arranged each time you pass by.

By the way, I love seeing Canada from your eyes, I would love to visit oneday. It seems so beautiful!

Have a great day!!!


2 | BC

July 14th, 2007 at 4:34 pm


What a lovely idea… it’s wonderful to see someone welcome children and community into their garden.

4 | grrl with a blog

July 16th, 2007 at 9:45 pm


hehe! It’s my landlord’s garden.

I didn’t really know what to think of it the first time I saw it, then I noticed they moved around as well…but I never asked who moved them. I guess I’m a bit relieved that Dan isn’t out there on his hands and knees in the middle of the night setting up new scenes!

I always have to look in on them to see what they are up to!

5 | andrea

July 16th, 2007 at 9:52 pm


No kidding? That’s so neat. :)

6 | DaniGirl

July 17th, 2007 at 7:52 am


How cool is that? I’m so happy to hear that nobody has walked off with the dinosaurs.

7 | Kristina

July 18th, 2007 at 11:10 am


I think that is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard of!! And how lovely (and fitting!) that you left her such a lovely present on her doorstep. Often, people who do wonderful little things like that for the neighbourhood go completely unthanked/unappreciated.

8 | Sherri

July 23rd, 2007 at 2:26 pm


Cool, a Thundercats toy!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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