Indian Creek Nature Center
Indian Creek Nature Center’s beautiful Hazelnut Hideaway and new Forest Garden flow with the surrounding landscape, located on a tree line between the Nature Center wetlands and Bena Brook.
The location of Hazelnut Hideaway provides natural ambiance and beauty for all. Frogs, turtles and waterfowl make the wetland their home and can be enjoyed from a view at any point in the classroom. Existing trees and branches were deliberately incorporated into the overall design of the classroom. Shrubs, including redbuds and hazelnuts, create a multilayer canopy of changing colors throughout the year. By incorporating nature and taking advantage of the surrounding landscape, each visit provides a different experience.
Guests use the words peaceful, rugged, natural and fun to describe their time in Hideaway due to the natural materials by which it was constructed. Wood and stone are the primary materials in the classroom, along with a few metal items, like copper wind spinners hung in trees and pans, spoons, and watering cans used in the Let It Flow area.
Each element of Hazelnut Hideaway was created to fit in the overall space and reflect a component of nature. This includes the stump spiral and live edge balance beam in Adventurescape, the performance stage made of tree cookies, and materials for block and structure building. In the Natural Art area, the loom incorporates the weaving of natural grasses that are harvested on-site, and the Mud Kitchen uses earth and wood for creative play. Landforms in the shape of a snake and a turtle were created using earth and were seeded for green scaping. These landforms and a wooden platform serve as a gathering and performance space. All of the trees and shrubs planted in the area are edible and provide shade.
By engaging with and seeking feedback from children, staff, volunteers, and artists, each part of Hazelnut Hideaway is especially unique. In the summer of 2021 Forest Garden was installed – a fenced area to the immediate south of Hazelnut Hideaway that offers a second special outdoor classroom space. All of the elements in Forest Garden give nod to the original Hazelnut Hideaway classroom – natural materials, attention to the holistic needs of children, shade and comfort, and safe outdoor exploration. A local artist will install Maple Tree Manor, a magical fort made of willow in the spring of 2022, which will provide an aesthetically pleasing connector between Hazelnut Hideaway and Forest Garden. Additional elements will be added to Forest Garden in 2022.
Hazelnut Hideaway and Forest Garden will continually change based on feedback, the seasons, and the needs of the community. Therefore, it will be a pleasantly evolving project that fulfills our mission to create Champions of Nature.