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under the oak 2006
June 2006


This whimsical, rustic natural play lab is sheltered under the oldest tree on Arboretum property, a spreading bur oak over 200 years old.   It was created in 2006 and has become a favorite stop for many families.

Unlike the rest of the Arboretum, this is a place we invite children (of all ages) to move things around, build forts and dens, hold tea parties and puppet shows, clamber on fallenlogs and generally re-create things to suit their fancy.

under the oak 2006
June 2006

Our goal is to provide some "play-start" structures, plenty of loose materials like sticks, cones and branch slices, and leave the rest to the enthusiasm and imagination of young users. 




under the oak 2008

The Story Keeps Going

With the general wear-and-tear, we refurbish Under The Oak's structures each spring.  They change over time, depending on what pruning materials we have to work with, how activities are used, and the inspirations of staff and visitors.  

under the oak 20011

Then all season long, remarkable creations spring up like mushrooms, disappear and reappear in new forms, as each wave of visitors dismantles and builds anew. 

The rules are simple:  Create.  Be Safe.  Have Fun.  Leave Everything Here, for others too. 

under the oak 20086 puppets
Puppet Stage, 2006


Current Features

Under The Oak has a Puppet Stage, Willow Den, Twig-loo, Toad Abode, Stump Throne, Hideout, Tea Party Table and assorted Fort-Starts.   Materials used are rot-resistant woods (oak, cedar, ironwood), willow, grapevine, burlap.   Structures are stabilized by setting them 12" into the ground.

Building and weaving with leftover sticks can be intriguing backyard fun for families.  Why not find an out-of-the-way corner with a supply of prunings and give it a try!

Under the Oak, Through the Times

under the oak 2006 tea party table
2006, Tea Party Table

under the oak 2007

under the oak 2008 puppet stage
2008, Puppet Stage

under the oak 2011
2011, fort-building