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Environmental and Sustainability Education

Creativity in Education Garden

Creativity Garden

This garden symbolizes the importance of creativity and the arts at OISE and in 21st century learning.  Its colourful flowers and unusual plant shapes demonstrate the power of the arts to integrate all of the senses by creating engaging environments that reflect, provoke, and inspire. Filled with indigenous plant species known for attracting butterflies and bees, this garden acts as a metaphor for the cross-pollination of ideas and practices that are an integral part of OISE's approach to research, teaching, and learning.  Plants spilling down the sides encourage those who pass by to emulate what the arts do best: think outside the box.

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida

Echinacea is a plant that is native to North America and has many uses. Medicinally, it has been used extensively in the treatment of colds and infections as it is thought to stimulate the immune system and decrease inflammation. Drought tolerant,  it is also a great pollinator. It blooms through the whole summer, with its flowers transforming from pale pink to a deeper purple. In this garden it is a visual symbol of creativity through tis beautiful bright flowers.

Asclepias syriaca - cabo' sîkûn/înîni'wûnj

Milkweed has light pink flowers and contains a bitter white sap that protects it from predators. The sap also is essential nectar for many butterfly species, including monarchs.  It has been included here to symbolize the role the arts and creativity plays in the pollination of ideas across disciplines.

Red Osier Dogwood
Cornus sericea - Mskwaabiimnagoons

The red osier dogwood has many traditional uses; Indigenous peoples have used it in many creative ways:  its twigs and branches in basket weaving and tool making, its berries in medicines and food, and in combination with grasses to make ceremonial tobacco.  It is a medium sized shrub with striking white berries and blooms and red bark.

Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa - weca' wûs wackwî' nek

Wild bergamot or bee balm is a fragrant native plant to Ontario that has clusters of soft pink or purple flowers. It has long been used by Indigenous peoples of North America as a medicine and antiseptic to treat colds (brewed as tea) and infections and wounds (ground into a poultice). Tea made from wild bergamot has also been used as a stimulant. In the Creativity Garden, this plant represents expression through all our senses (smell, taste, visual, etc).

Jerusalem Artichoke
Helianthus tuberosus

Also known as sunroot or sunchoke, this species of sunflower is actually a member of the daisy family.  Like creativity, it is easy to cultivate, and its tuber is often used as a root vegetable or as a substitute for potatoes in cooking.  Beautiful to the eyes, delicious to eat, an edible, visual treat!

Bleeding Heart
Dicentra eximia

Wild bleeding heart is a perennial native to Ontario. It has been included here as its delicate blooms are visually appealing and unusual in structure - red to deep pink hearts hang above the pale green leaves, like kinetic sculptures.

Wild Chives
Allium schoenoprasum

One of the first plants to appear in the Spring, Wild Chives can be distinguished by their oniony aroma and pom-pom shaped pink-purple flowers. Wild Chives are an edible plant that have been used for centuries as a way to spice up food, just as creativity spices up learning experiences.

Virgin's Bower
Clematis virginiana

Virgin's Bower is a woody perennial vine that has large, showy trumpet shaped flowers of orange to red. The brightly coloured flowers attract many birds, including hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Its tendrils reach out and extend broadly from the plant.  It has been included in this garden to symbolize 'thinking outside the box' as it will spill outside of this garden as it grows.

Wild Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis - Ininiwizh

Columbine is a low maintenance wildflower native to Ontario. Its brightly coloured early spring flowers attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. In the Creativity Garden it represents the way creative people pollinate ideas in the world, bringing and sustaining many forms of life.


Creativity Garden map


Resources on Creativity in Education


Galindo, A. (2001). Finding our place in the garden: A holistic approach to art education. 

Inwood, H. & Sharpe, J. (2018). Growing a Garden- based Approach to Art Education. Art Education Journal, 71(4), 43-49.