The Thicket: Our New Enchanting Retreat in the Backyard


Director of Content and Communications

Does your dining room frequently become a pirate ship or medieval castle with the addition of a few blankets and other props? Then you already know how kids are drawn to building secret hideouts and holing up for hours with flashlights and snacks. Now, we’ve added our own enchanting retreat in the Backyard. The thicket can be a quiet place to read a book, grab a quiet snuggle or act out a story with friends and siblings. You’ll find a collection of ribbons and other loose parts to personalize your venture.

A Natural Play Space to Call Her Own.”

Our thicket was designed and built by local artist, Kelly English of Cherriup. She says it was really a simple idea. Kelly wanted to create a natural play space for her daughter to call her own. Gathering sticks from her yard and willow branches from a friend, Kelly drew on her design background and wove her daughter a thicket. Together they hung hammocks for special toys and made up fantastical tales.

When kids build forts, they make a special place to call their own. And it’s important. According to David Sobel, an education professor at Antioch University New England, “Creating secret forts, dens, hideouts and playhouses isn’t just any random kind of play. It’s a universal drive that’s rooted in kids’ healthy development.” As in other types of pretend play, when kids build forts, they’re figuring out the world around them and exerting some independence. As a child grows she begins to define herself separately from her family. Acting out a story with friends in the thicket gives her a safe space to

Of course, we can tell they’re having a whole lot of fun, too!


Open seasonally, this is Minnesota’s quirkiest backyard. Crawl into a person-sized bird’s nest, make friends with fanciful animal sculptures and get your hands dirty with earthy materials. This is where play happens, naturally. Enter the Backyard through Forces at Play on the first floor. Don’t be surprised when you meet an old friend, the Queen Ant from the retired Earth World gallery loves her new outdoor home

Forts are Powerful.”

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