Our Founder – Cathy Bache

To feel fully at home in nature is our children’s birth right

In 2008 the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery was registered with the Care Inspectorate as Scotland’s first fully outdoor nursery for children in the early years. Cathy Bache, our visionary founder, was passionate about children having space and freedom to play in nature. She believed that adult practitioners can best serve children by being present and aware, by communicating thoughtfully and respectfully, and by themselves being fully at home and alive in nature. Following this ethos the Secret Garden has grown over the years into a unique and acclaimed early years setting, with a highly skilled and dedicated staff team, and an equally dedicated and amazing community of parents (and ex parents), friends and supporters.

Cathy believed that the Secret Garden was more than “just” a nursery. She believed it was a community, a way of being and of thinking, standing for something precious and endangered in our rapidly changing world – a response to the increasing complexity of our times, to the resulting erosion of childhood, of childhood play and of our children’s deep and vital sense of belonging in the natural world. Cathy was awarded  a BEM for her services to Early Years Play and Education in 2017.

Casting the seeds widely

Sadly, Cathy passed away in July of 2017, with many of her ideas yet to be realised. Cathy wanted the Secret Garden experience to be available to children everywhere, and had been visioning and working on a Training Programme. People come from all over the UK and further to visit the Secret Garden and learn about our way of being with the children in the woods. Cathy wanted to offer something more in depth, to craft a Training Programme accessible to those who would take most from it, regardless of their financial means, so that the seeds of our practice could be taken and sown in different places, to grow into beautiful offerings for children in nature – each one unique to itself, but all with the foundations of mindful presence, deep nature connectedness and a rich understanding of children’s play.